2015 William W. Caudill Citation
American School and University Magazine
One of the deadliest and most destructive tornadoes in the history of the United States struck Joplin, Missouri, May 22, 2011. The tornado traveled along a 13-mile path destroying Joplin High School, the only public high school in town, on graduation day.
DLR Group's fast-track design transformed an abandoned big box retail space into a 21st century high school in 55 days. The design was more than a stop-gap solution. It was an inspiration to students and served as a rallying point for the healing community. The school comprised six small learning communities that divided the larger student population into 200-student studios and offered a more intimate learning environment for students and staff. Small and large group collaboration areas with a variety of seating accommodated individual or group learning, while large openings, oversized pivot doors, and a diverse array of soft and structured furniture allowed students to customize spaces to fit their personal preferences. Many of these design features are found in the new high school.
History has shown us that crisis and innovation have resulted in systemic change. In the case of the design for the New Joplin High School innovation and crisis occurred simultaneously resulting in a national model for the design of future-ready learning environments. Responding to the immediate needs of a community without a high school, the design team was given the task of planning, designing and documenting a 488,000-SF state of the art high school in 8 months. Flexible-innovative methodologies were applied in the educational planning, schematic design, and project delivery. The guiding principles for the design were: building relationships; personalized learning; community shelter; critical thinking.