This vast campus was designed in an astonishingly short time to remedy the acute shortage of high school space in a tornado-hit community in Missouri. Swisspearl provided a solution for part of the exterior cladding as well as a signature wall inside the gym, which features the school’s emblem engraved in a two-layered paneling.
Patrick Zamariàn The tornado that devastated Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011 claimed 161 lives and destroyed almost 7,000 homes as well as ten of the district’s twenty schools, including its only public high school. Given the urgency of the situation, DLR Group, working in partnership with CGA Architects, was given merely eight months to plan and design an ambitious new high school and tech campus. True to schedule, the 110-million-dollar project broke ground on the first anniversary of the disaster with work beginning on-site whilst drawings were still being finalized, and in September 2014 Vice President Joe Biden came to Joplin to inaugurate the 45,000-square-meter, 3,000-student-capacity campus in time for the start of the academic year.
The state-of-the-art facility accommodates a pioneering new curriculum, which offers students the choice between one of five career pathways. Instead of clustering similar functions in one place, the architects organized them into four parallel bars separated by themed courtyards and outdoor teaching spaces. The students’ four-year progression through the school takes them from one of the small learning communities of decentralized core curricula housed on the cantilevering top level of each bar via academies of focused studies on the middle floor to the large fabrication labs at ground level.
Access to the building is from the east via the commons, a double-story circulation and gathering space, which connects via glazed walkways to the classroom units as well as the top-loaded 2,500-seat arena, the largest of three gymnasiums housed in a separate building at the heart of the campus. At the two ends of the classroom wing, the program is complemented by a performing arts center and the Franklin Technology Center, which is also open to members of the local community.
The architects combined a variety of low-maintenance materials, such as black box-ribbed metal panels, silver metal panels, and CMU blocks to give texture, depth, and patterning to the building envelope. Large sections of the building are clad in Swisspearl panels in two different shades of red, which break the scale of the large forms whilst adding an element of playfulness to the façades.
Swisspearl panels are also used for the 340-square-meter signature wall inside the arena, which displays the school’s emblem, a white abstracted eagle on cardinal red ground, lit by a series of northfacing lanterns. The architects wanted the image to be engraved into the panels, and the company met this unusual request by coating a Carat Crystal base panel with an additional layer of custom-made color. Swisspearl engineers collaborated with outside experts to process the necessary lamination of the 120 units to the required standard before engraving 100 of them and cutting them to the right size. Although this interesting new method is so far limited to interior applications, Swisspearl is at present conducting tests to make it available for façade coverings, too.
The signature wall inside the arena consists of 120 red-coated white panels. One hundred of these panels were individually engraved to create the image of an abstracted eagle as the school’s emblem.
2016 John Shaw Award – Association for Learning Environments
2016 AIA Springfield Design Awards – Honor Award
2016 American Society of Landscape Architects, Prairie Gateway Chapter – Honor Award
2016 Educational Interiors Showcase – Gold Citation
2015 American School & University – William W. Caudill Citation
CGA along with partner DLR Group worked closely with students, teachers and staff to ensure that this building meets their current and expanding needs.
Type of building
Joplin School District
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