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Gretna East High School

Designed Connections Elevate Learning Experiences


Gretna Public Schools

Project Location

Omaha, NE


371,000 SF



The new Gretna East High School is all about connections – from land to sky, interior to exterior, and most critically, people to people. A special focus on site organization, building orientation, and access to exterior spaces and programs creates a unique learning experience for the 1,600 students in this rapidly growing community along the edge of the Omaha metro area.

Learning is elevated through a 22,400-SF academic courtyard surrounded entirely by educational spaces. Intentional linear movements off the central spine of the building create a connected learning environment of classrooms, breakout spaces, and outdoor learning areas to meet the full needs of the diverse student body. This layout allows students to travel throughout the day and eliminates the challenge of wayfinding by accentuating exterior views that draw users through the space and create moments of pause.

Commemorating Community

Beyond providing a safe and welcoming environment to serve the influx of students, this second high school celebrates the community’s culture of lifelong learning and embraces the history of the building site.

Celebration of Learning

Customizable Environments

Flexibility within the learning environment is achieved through varying sizes of classrooms, which can be adapted to fit learning in the moment. Within the academic wing, two general classrooms share a science lab to offer additional space and accommodate future growth. An art display within the art studio showcases student work and adds transparency from the art studio to the corridor and courtyard, also providing natural light deep into the space. CTE programming is highlighted with a welding shop, small engines shop, woods lab, and white box lab, which includes drone studies and a makerspace.

Student Designers

Harvesting Creativity

Students participated in a competition to design precast panels at the main entrance. Together, our team and district representatives selected themes to display that pay homage to the history of the crop field site and the local community’s rural roots. Taking physical cues from a corn field, rows of fields are replicated in the building façade to create a rich texture and rhythmic aesthetic. Additionally, the fins at the curtainwall serve as sun shading devices to provide filtered natural daylight into the learning commons.

Energy Drivers

High Performance Solutions

Gretna East High School is oriented along an east /west axis. Daylighting studies were conducted to optimize glass frit and shade structures to provide optimal lighting from the courtyard to the interior classrooms throughout the building, A high performance envelope and energy model result in a 59% predicted energy use intensity reduction from baseline.

Visual Identity

Building a Brand

After approving a bond issue to fund the new high school, community members rallied together to select a mythical creature, the Griffins, as their new mascot. Our team collaborated with school board members and administrators to design the new visual brand identity, which defines a new generation of students in Gretna and serves as the school’s rallying point. Our deliverable is both a brand guide that school leaders are using to implement the brand and an experiential graphics package that showcases brand elements in high volume spaces within the facility. It also demonstrates numerous design options for business materials, uniforms, and merchandise using the new Griffin brand. Apparel and branded items are currently being sold in local businesses throughout the community, generating additional revenue for the school.


Explore the school’s new visual brand identity.

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