Crowder College, Webb City Tornado Safe Room and Classroom Expansion

Webb City, Missouri

  • FIRM

    Paragon Architecture


    Crowder College

  • AREA

    22,305 sq.ft.





Crowder College envisions its newest addition as a community asset for its Webb City campus, not only by being environmentally conscious, but also by providing the community with protection from potentially hazardous storms. Students and faculty also benefit from an enhanced educational atmosphere.

The 22,000-square-foot expansion was designed to meet a ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY387COST PER SQ FT$264.51FEATURED IN2013 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYWork in Progress LEED silver accreditation. It includes a 9,000-square-foot tornado safe room for students, faculty and the surrounding community, and will support Crowder College’s effort to confront continual enrollment growth and crowding, as well as protect the community from potentially hazardous storms. The environmentally conscious design ensures a whole-building approach to sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

While protecting the environment, Crowder College also wants to protect the community from the environment.  The tornado safe room is designed to withstand 250-mile-per-hour winds, as seen in an EF5 tornado, while protecting more than 1,000 people from inclement weather. The project is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, which will open the safe room automatically to the community at any time of day or night during impending severe storms without the need for a key from Crowder College staff. During daily operation, however, the safe room houses flexible classroom, study and learning environments.

Upon entering the building, students and faculty are greeted with multi-functional spaces. Expanded collaboration zones, which link spaces and house refined study areas, are used in lieu of more traditional compressed corridor arteries.

Another interesting aspect of the design is that the second floor of the facility is uniquely structured independent of the safe room below, as if the second floor had been lifted above the safe room by piers.  The design enables the safe room to maintain its strength and integrity if an unfortunate tornadic event were to strike the facility.

The holistic, 360º design approach doesn’t stop with the big- picture project requirements, but flows down to other details within the design. The articulated contemporary design provides easily identifiable entries and improved traffic flow around the campus.

The project uses hard lines of rigidly organized metal panels and strategically designed and placed window systems, but covered canopies and the use of warmer finishes and textures, like that of slightly wood-grained siding, decisively bring the project to a human scale at the entry points and highly interactive areas. The use of monumental glazed masonry and concrete emphasizes contemporary academic architecture.