North Kansas City Schools, Students in Academically Gifted Education (SAGE)

Gladstone, Missouri

  • FIRM

    Perkins and Will


    North Kansas City School District

  • AREA

    33,800 sq.ft.





Design team:
Steven Turckes, Julie Michiels, Liz Potokar

The North Kansas City School District sought an engaging, dynamic space that empowers the elementary-age students in the Students in Academically Gifted Education (SAGE) program to take ownership of their education, explore new ideas, and spark creativity through socializing. Abundant collaboration ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMHoefer Wysocki Architects (Architect of Record), McCownGordon (Construction)CAPACITY285COST PER SQ FT$89.00CITATIONSpecial CitationFEATURED IN2017 Architectural Portfolio at the district’s Northland Innovation Center supports project-based learning and independent study. This builds social and emotional skills while encouraging intellectual curiosity. Natural light floods in through large windows. Wide stairwells encourage movement throughout the building and create opportunities for casual collaboration and socialization. An outdoor patio serves as open-air classroom space, complementing the playground that students use at recess. Teachers take full advantage of the opportunities to incorporate physical activity and outdoor learning into the students’ day.
The design team worked with the school to move from traditional self-contained classrooms (the “cells and bells” model) to an open, collaborative environment that provides different spaces for a range of activities. At its essence, SAGE is a tenant improvement project. The design was inserted into a newly constructed office building with fixed parameters and building core. The team worked around those elements to cater to the needs of staff and students and build out a space that serves current and future curricula.
The tight sloping site posed a number of challenges: it slopes roughly 20 feet from east to west. The building sits on two levels, so the team decided that the lowest level with direct access outside would house the youngest students, and older students would inhabit the upper level.
The design team held programming and planning workshops in which district administrators and faculty discussed their mission and vision. Through this process and a number of critical tours of other facilities, the faculty could envision an innovative learning environment unique to the needs of the SAGE program: one that prioritized project-based, student-directed learning.