During educational specification planning labs, the design team worked with local stakeholders to reach the decision to replace the school, aligning it with educational goals and facility needs. The key components of the design include reconfigurable space, flexible furniture, improved visitor experience, and an office by the entry to create a welcoming and secure checkpoint.
The commons area is the heart of the school and is the focus of the students’ academic, social, and activity life. From this common area students access the media center, flexible learning spaces, and program resources. Teaching and learning teams are arranged around the commons, and these areas include a variety of space types: Classrooms, Science Labs, Project Resources Labs, and student support spaces. Together, these spaces provide rich opportunities for direct instruction and self-directed projects.
Classrooms are highly flexible to accommodate changing activities, multiple teaching modes, and learning styles. Operable partitions allow rooms to expand, and have a high level of transparency to the project resource area allowing passive security to this space and the resource rooms beyond.
The media center opens to the commons, expanding opportunities for larger groups of students to use media resources and allowing the school to be a resource-intensive, active academic environment.
The planning and design solution incorporated the following goals:
Connecting with students
Connecting learning to the community and the students’ lives
Focusing on higher-order thinking activities
Learning by doing
Making learning interesting
Involving students in designing their learning
Building Performance was a design driver beginning with conceptual massing, resulting in a compact energy efficient form being incorporated into the program, benefiting efficiency and cost. Classroom spaces were organized to the south for maximum daylight, and transparent, movable walls allow daylight to permeate deep into the building. This was important due to the lack of natural light and extreme temperatures during the school year. Additionally, a fully glazed clerestory atop the central commons area reduces the need for electric lighting.
Design themes within the building enforce native ecologies and culture, creating a sense of pride and community. The large, flexible spaces act as secure gathering areas for community functions after hours, allowing the building to serve multiple purposes and building a sense of place. Design elements inspired by native birch forests and the nearby Denali National Park, as well as a warm, natural materials palette, further celebrate local culture.
Beginning at concept design, the team evaluated potential energy reduction based on our firm’s commitment to the 2030 Challenge. We evaluated energy use at Schematic Design and Construction Documentation phases to make sure the project was on target for energy reduction goals and client needs. At the school’s request, a life cycle assessment of mechanical and envelope systems drove the decision making process and delivered envelope and MEP systems that balanced the school’s need for energy efficiency, daylight, insulation, low utility cost, reasonable long term maintenance burdens while meeting first construction costs. This included super insulated wall and roof systems that met the flame spread characteristics, and exceeded ASHRAE 90.1 by maximizing the allowable use of outside insulation, blown in fiberglass, and fire treated exterior wall studs.
-Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr excluding on-site renewable energy contribution: 76.5
-Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr including on-site renewable energy contribution (carbon offsets will not be counted): 76.5
-Predicted % regional energy reduction per Energy Star Target Finder: 25%
-[Optional] Actual Predicted EUI in kBtu/sf/yr including on-site renewable energy contribution (based on one-year utility records): N/A
Other elements include:
-LED Lights: The use of LED lights throughout reduces energy usage and maintenance.
-Lighting Controls: Occupancy sensors, and daylight sensors are used to automatically dim or shut off lighting when not needed.
-Daylighting and daylight control: Light is controlled through shading devices, as research shows access to daylight promotes a better learning environment.
-Efficient Building Systems: High efficiency Gas Boiler with Direct Heat Back-up, and Gad Back-up Power Generator. A dedicated outdoor air system is also used, with energy recovery.
There is no public transit in this area. Walk score is N/A. Total parking = 119 dedicated spaces, with 200 overflow and shared parking spaces. With 615 middle school students and approx. 50 staff, there are approximately .5 parking spaces per occupant.
Percent (%) precipitation managed on site: 100%
Percent (%) waste water reused on site: 0%
Percent (%) annual regulated potable water use, gallons/sf/yr: 0.57 kgal/occ/yr
Percent (%) regulated potable water reduction from baseline: 38%
Material selections at Ryan Middle School were chosen in regard to both physical and mental health when addressing interior environmental quality:
• Color-changing light in central space to enhance mood of students and teachers during long, dark winter days
• White walls with colored glass and perforated metal help create dynamic lighting when sunlight is available
• Expansive walk-off area at entry to keep pollutants and weather-related mess from tracking into the building
• Zero VOC paints
• High-recycled content ceilings
• High-recycled content carpet backing
• 100% recycled nylon carpet at select locations
• Natural cork for tackable display walls