Nestled into a steeply sloping site, the new Rapid Run Middle School was designed to facilitate team-teaching for 750 students in grades 6 to 8. A major program of construction and renovation addressed districtwide problems with overcrowding and reconfigured grade levels to create middle schools.
Located in a residential neighborhood, the site had a long history of ASSOCIATED FIRMCole + Russell ArchitectsCOST PER SQ FT$134.71FEATURED IN2000 Architectural Portfolio as community soccer fields. One of the design criteria was to construct the new building along a steep slope at the back of the site to preserve and upgrade these playing fields and take advantage of views of an adjacent township park, which also would be used by the school.
In order to take advantage of the site, the new middle school is set into the hill, appearing to be a one-story building on the residential side and a two-story building on the wooded side of the site. As visitors enter the building on-grade at the upper level, the glass-enclosed media center and administration suite welcome them to the academic heart of the building.
The sixth grade, which previously had been in the elementary schools, is in a self-contained wing near the front of the building, while a two-story wing for grades 7 and 8 is oriented toward the back of the site. On the lower level, eighth-grade classrooms, art, industrial technology and life skills have easy access to outside learning areas. Each wing of classrooms includes two teams per grade level. Each team has a science lab and classrooms with operable walls for large-group use. Each grade-level wing also contains a 30-station computer lab and staff planning room.
A large cafeteria/commons space is the center of the public-event area within the school. This dining and social activity space also acts as a secure lobby for the adjacent 450-seat auditorium and 750-seat gymnasium without opening the academic portion of the building. The bright and airy cafeteria/commons looks over an outdoor terrace and amphitheater at the back of the building and has views of the adjacent park.
A large-group instruction room with a platform stage can be accessed from the academic wing, as well as the cafeteria/commons, and is used for team meetings and community events.
Photographer: ©Emery Photography