Heilmann Middle School

Detroit, Michigan

Detroit Public Schools established a philosophy for carrying out its $1.5 billion bond issue: design elements would emanate from that which defines the city of Detroit. The design team used input from staff and keyed in on the following elements relating to the city: the street grid system that radiates from the central core; the Detroit River, which borders and ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMCash & AssociatesCAPACITY1,000COST PER SQ FT$155.00FEATURED IN2004 Architectural Portfolio defines the city; and Detroit’s hometown, rhythmic and poetic Motown sound.

The street grid is an organizing element in the layout of the building. A “river” of blue tile in the corridors flows through the facility, and rhythmic patterns abound throughout the school. The glass-enclosed circular town plaza space raises three stories and serves as a lighted beacon to the neighborhood during evening events.

The goal for the HVAC system was to create energy efficiency using a geothermal heat-pump system. Computer simulations indicate that this building should operate with about 35 percent less energy and 25 percent less maintenance per year compared with conventional systems.