The community’s vision for the Lake Orion High School was to provide a state-of-the-art research facility that internally preserved the small, traditional, student-oriented high school of the past, while accommodating growth pressures that promised to propel the 900-student body to more than 1,600 by the year 2000.
This facility would be the ultimate CAPACITY1,600COST PER SQ FT$129.00CITATIONHigh School CitationFEATURED IN1998 Architectural Portfolio center; therefore all resources such as the auditorium, swimming pool and the gymnasium would be readily accessible from the main entrance. Second, the 1,600-student body would be divided into four, 400-student houses that could function independently, but also would have access to shared community facilities. Finally, the administrative area would be referred to as the student-services center and would occupy the central position in the academic floor plan, typically reserved for the library.
Because traditional library resources are accessible by computers from every classroom, the library was reconceptualized as a decentralized reading room and group-research activity center. The tech-ed labs, studio classroom and science labs are located near the media center to create a high-tech resource center that supports the integration of critical thinking, research and mechanical skills.
Each of the four, 400-student classroom units includes computer rooms, research areas, student lockers and faculty offices. The steep slope of the site allows two classroom units to be stacked adjacent to the centralized student services area and the skylighted student commons. All four houses function independently, yet also share academic resources. Two large-group instruction rooms are provided to hold lectures and presentation for groups as large as 80 students. The school cafeteria evolved into a central commons space with a dramatic cone-shaped roof, topped with a skylight that floods the space with natural light.
The steeply sloping site selected for the new facility was half-covered with protected wetlands. These wetlands and the adjacent forestlands serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental science classes. The auditorium, gymnasium and pool are placed adjacent to the parking areas to allow easy access. The two-story facility is stepped into the natural slope, allowing public access to community facilities to be vertically separated from student access and permitting classroom spaces to have sweeping views of the adjacent Bald Mountain State Forest.
Photographer: ©Gary Quesada/Hedrich-Blessing
"Good community response; flexible space; high technology; very interesting architectural design."—1998 jury