Novi Community School District began planning a new 1,100-student facility for seventh- and eighth-grade students to allow for the conversion of the district’s existing K-8 school into a true elementary school. Initial planning meetings with administrators, teachers and the community focused on the need for flexible space that could accommodate an COST PER SQ FT$159.96FEATURED IN2000 Architectural Portfolio team-teaching approach. A physical separation of grade levels and common access to ancillary spaces also were desired. After-hours use of the facility called for secure entrances, separation from academic areas and a centralized administration area to provide adequate supervision to the campus as a whole.
The resulting design creates a facility that not only meets these project goals, but also provides a dynamic learning environment. The main organizational element for the facility is the administration zone, characterized by the use of a connection spine linking the core and related academic/community-use zones. This spine features administrative offices that overlook the rear bus loop on one side, and a 100-foot-long, two-story glass wall that overlooks student dropoff on the other. In addition to providing light and space for the corridor and offices, the spine provides supervision of student pickup while contributing aesthetically to the striking front elevation.
The nucleus of the main academic zone is the media center. The importance of this element is established by a 45-foot-high, 30-foot-square skylight at the center of the reading room/stacks. The media center provides everything from traditional media services to computer mezzanines for independent study. Four symmetrical classroom/lab wings (two per grade level) radiate from this center, which shortens travel distances to other ancillary spaces. The adjacent central courtyard features a thoughtfully landscaped outdoor instructional area.
The related academic/community-use zone, on the opposite end of the connecting spine, is anchored by an inward-focusing commons area, which accommodates student dining. Although the main function of this space is student socialization, it also serves as circulation for the fine-arts program, physical-education locker rooms and kitchen. A second skylight establishes this element’s importance as a lobby or group meeting area for the gymnasium and theater.
This facility’s design challenges students to grow as young adults and helps to prepare them for their high school years.
Photographer: ©Emery Photography