Projecting an increase in student population as a result of the "Kalamazoo Promise," which offers up to 100 percent college tuition scholarships to Kalamazoo Public School graduates, the district was committed to investing in its students and the growing community.
The district’s first new school in 30 years, Prairie CAPACITY600COST PER SQ FT$128.95FEATURED IN2009 Architectural Portfolio Elementary, is zoned into two wings: education and community use. Community spaces (gymnasium, media center, cafeteria, music room, art room and computer lab) can be separated from the education wing for evening use. Student learning spaces feature a central commons, flexible classrooms with shared technology rooms, and secure access to mudrooms and classrooms from the bus loop.
Design features incorporate sustainable strategies and create innovative learning environments. The two-story structure nestles into the sloping hillside of its 30-acre site, creating upper and lower level "walk-outs" that maximize both daylight and the Earth’s insulating properties. The building is seeking LEED gold certification, and the energy-efficient design has contributed to significant federal tax credits.
A "green" roof patio adjacent to the art studio accommodates student instruction, exhibits and sculpture gardens. The two-story media center opens onto an outdoor amphitheater that is used for classes, storytime and performances. The building utilizes exposed construction and green signage to educate students about construction techniques and sustainable-design strategies.
Prairie Ridge, a blend of indoors and out, community and students, will serve as a flagship for the district as it strives to create facilities that fulfill "The Promise."