Jordan Middle School
Design Achievement – Jordan School District wanted to re-imagine its middle school, constructed circa 1960, into a flexible learning environment capable of supporting a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) program. DLR Group was engaged to work with the school's stakeholders, investigate various grade level clusters and numerous educational delivery concepts, then design an extensive renovation and addition program to respond to the district's vision that completely changes its educational delivery. Simultaneously, the district opted to construct a major addition to the middle school to house a new Community Education and Recreation Center (CERC) to offer all community residents a needed fitness and recreation space. The resultant facility apportions students into two academic clusters housing 5/6 grade students and 7/8 grade students, each with classrooms, labs and teacher support areas, flexible enough to accommodate a variety of configurations for student work. The facility's original shared common areas are receiving minor renovation work. The design team devised a creative adaptation of the building's core, using existing structural columns and raising the roof an additional 15 feet, to house an expanded mechanical system and bring natural light deep into the commons area through a series of clerestory windows. The raised section also serves to define a new secure entrance adjacent to the school's administrative offices.
Scope Summary – This project includes renovating a 108,670 SF facility built in 1965, adding a 12,200 SF pod with a variety of flexible learning spaces, and creating a 60,145 SF Community Center addition. The Community Education and Recreation Center (CERC), with its own entry, includes three gym stations with an elevated track, fitness center and community meeting spaces. Large glass windows will bring natural light deep into the facility, lighting all recreation and meeting areas. The classroom addition accommodates the district's movement toward a STEAM program and provides two academic clusters each with ten classrooms and three Einstein labs (multipurpose labs that can be used for science and other subjects. The commons area, the building's heart, seats up to 400 students and focuses on a raised stage area with acoustical ceiling. DLR Group provided architectural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, structural engineering and interior design services.
The District’s goals
The District challenged the design team to develop a sustainable transformation of an existing community asset into an effective interdisciplinary learning venue. Carefully working within the confines of the existing building with strategic building additions placed to maximize their effectiveness, the design team was able to infuse daylight into all areas of the existing building while providing transformable spaces to meet the needs of 21st Century learners.
A responsive solution
Building on the bones of a community-loved asset, the Jordan Middle School completely reinvents the meaning of middle school for this growing community. The transformation of this traditional, rigid and window-poor school into a flexible, daylight flooded, inter-disciplinary environment will meet the needs of middle school learners for many years.
The variety of learner centered spaces integrated throughout the entire building provides for access to impactful environments in a multiplicity of ways by the staff and students, as well as the entire community.
The design team conducted observational research in order to understand how the existing facility was being used and how effective it was in supporting the educational activities happening throughout the building. We also conducted a number of design workshops with community members to better understand their goals and aspirations for a community-centered facility. The consensus building activities throughout the process were designed to effectively evolve both the physical manifestation of the needed spaces in addition to the educational program.
Planning and design
The building’s energy efficiency and thermal comfort are enhanced by a new roof and tightened building envelope. The school’s exterior skin and insulation was replaced, including an exchange of all leaky and deteriorated windows and doors for new energy-efficient openings. Both mechanical and electrical systems were updated, along with expanded phone, data, and CCTV systems
This totally renewed facility floods occupants with natural light and provides a safe, effective and healthy environment for the 21st Century. Flexibility, adaptability and functional layering allow for numerous needs to be met in multiple ways throughout the facility. The arrangement of spaces and strategic adjacencies allows effective security zoning, controllable access and supervision throughout.
The new public entry provides improved security and direct sight lines from the Administrative Suite. A creative adaptation of the building’s core, using existing structural columns and raising the roof an additional 15 feet, houses an expanded mechanical system and brings natural light deep into the central commons area through a series of clerestory windows. The expanded central corridor moves students, staff and visitors to the school’s Commons
The centrally-located commons is both an extension of the media center and the art studio, providing gallery space and a physical manifestation of arts integration into everything the school does. The commons is where social learning happens. It serves as the primary community gathering area where students eat lunch, and can be used throughout the day including an ad hoc “mountain top” teaching environment, or a formal performance area.
Genius Bars, or high table nooks with multiple laptop plug-ins, are built into the perimeter of the Commons; they are available to both students in small-group work or teachers in individual or team prep. Collaboration stations with LCD monitors ring the commons and allow students to plug in and share presentations with each other.
Locating the academic clusters in two separate areas allowed for appropriate facility organization and long-term academic flexibility. The strategic location of each addition was critical to obtaining as efficient a layout as possible. The new configuration allows the building to support traditional delivery models, and support growth through flexibility and adaptability of space.
Flexible breakout spaces are located at the core of each academic cluster, offering a variety of formal and casual furniture options to allow for more self-directed learning. These spaces can be used individually for small group work or be combined for larger scale projects.
Each academic cluster provides a balance of space types between open and closed, large and small, with permanent and flexible wall configurations. The building allows for a variety of student-teacher ratios, supporting inquiry-based lessons, making and creating, and collaborative activities.
Flexible breakout space with a variety of formal and casual furniture allow for more self-directed learning by students; they can be used individually for small group work or be combined for larger scale projects.
Teachers are not assigned to a specific room. Rather, they work with their colleagues to determine an allotment of rooms that best support the instruction model and tasks at hand. The overall space allocation and room configuration can be changed over time in response to increased enrollment or redesigned curriculum.
Each academic cluster includes integrated maker spaces, an area designated space for hands-on learning. Each maker space contains a small lecture space, small-group room, collaborative computer lab, science lab, and hands-on project room with moveable tables – all divided by glass partitions with layered transparency.
The attached two-story Community Ed and Rec Center addition, the CERC, serves both as the school’s physical education wing and community amenity. It is has its own staffed entry and zoned security to limit access to the school, while allowing for simultaneous use of facilities by both students and CERC members. A lower level includes a three-station gym, fitness center and locker rooms; the upper level provides an elevated walking track and community room with dedicated catering and serving area.
The new Community Education and Recreation Center, or CERC, provides fitness, activity and exercise space to all residents. The 19,500 square foot two-story addition has its own staffed entry and zoned security to limit access to the school, while allowing for simultaneous use of facilities by both students and community members.
The CERC’s lower level includes a three station multi-purpose gymnasium, fitness center and locker rooms, the upper level provides an elevated walking track and community meeting room. The gym can be configured for indoor tennis, volleyball, batting cages, basketball, or community events.
Learning by Design magazine
Finance and Commerce magazine