Valley Southwoods Freshman High School

West Des Moines, Iowa

  • FIRM

    FRK Architects + Engineers


    West Des Moines Community School District

  • AREA

    167,000 sq.ft.





Educational needs drive this fast-growing community. First, the district and community determined a ninth-grade building would best prepare learners for high school. Next, they outlined what students should know and be able to do. Then, Valley Southwoods Freshman High School was designed.

Flexibility, a connectedness between students and teachers, and a personalized ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONASSOCIATED FIRMHammel Green AbrahamsonCAPACITY850COST PER SQ FT$89.82FEATURED IN1998 Architectural Portfolio environment are key. The academic wing accommodates six teams, each featuring four classrooms, science room and staff-planning room, grouped around an open resource area. Because technology skills are integrated throughout the curriculum, much of the technology can be moved to different areas for interdisciplinary projects. All main corridors lead to the media center, a two-story open space overlooking the south lawn.

The center of the social area is the forum, a two-story open space overlooking the plaza. Serving as cafeteria, informal performance area and gathering space, the forum fosters conversation and a communal sense within and beyond the school. The music wing and gymnasium are adjacent.

Openness extends to the glass-walled office and front entry, conveying a welcome to parents and visitors.

Photographer: ©Dale Photographics