Elkins High School Project 15
Arkansas Division of Public Schools Academic Facilities and Transportation had determined the existing Elkins High School needed to be replaced and the existing facility demolished. The citizens of Elkins supported a millage vote to fund a new High School, along with help from State Participation. The challenge was always to give the Elkins School District a building that would give a sense of permanence and pride while staying within their modest budget.
Arkansas Division of Public Schools Academic Facilities and Transportation had determined the existing Elkins High School needed to be replaced and the existing facility demolished. Planning for the New Elkins High School began with a series of interactive Community design meetings in 2009. It was important from the start that the community feel included in the design process and decision making. They would have to pass a mileage, which happened in the fall of 2011, to make the High School possible. The challenge was always to give the Elkins School District a building that was a source of permanence and pride for the community while staying within a modest budget.
Working with the State funded square footage allotments, the design team had to be creative to stay within the parameters while still giving the school the functionality it needed. An example is in the Auditorium. The State would fund 2,000+/- sf of an Auditorium for a school this size. That square footage, however, would not hold the Elkins student body, or additional parents and staff, for large assemblies like commencement. The design team realized that if they created a mobile, operable wall at one end of the room, they could open the Auditorium into the Commons, more than doubling the seating capacity. The commons was designed to read as integral with the auditorium when the wall was open, but still be a complete space on its own.
Due to budget constraints metal building construction was the chosen construction method for the classroom wings. The core spaces like the Commons, Library, offices and Auditorium lent themselves, more economically, to conventional framing. The design team chose to use the inherent qualities of a metal building to their advantage. The lowest metal building wall girt was placed at the top of the brick wainscot so the brick could inset from the metal panel above without building a double stud wall to create the effect. Details such as atypical custom shapes for corner trim, an inverted corner, and roof edge details, flat and seamed, were designed and agreed upon with the metal building manufacturer so there were no additional costs incurred for the deviation from the normal metal building trim offerings.
Also taking advantage of typical metal building construction the team was able to provide a roof offset in the classroom wing structure that allowed for south facing clerestories to bring light into the corridors. The columns were left partly exposed, and completely exposed on the exterior corridor ends.
Simple finishes, polished concrete floors, painted concrete block, and standard metal building wall panels, were used to keep costs down. When possible the materials were used in creative ways without adding cost; for example the metal building panels came in smooth, one bead, and two bead profiles. A pattern of these three options was created to provide a subtle texture revealed when a visitor gets closer to the building. A twist on a standard cost savings device was to provide brick on the lighter colored, main front of the building, but not use the brick at the darker wall panel areas. How and where the brick was used became an integral part of the design instead of the lack of design at the back of the building.
The school has 28 classrooms, with a layout designed for expansion to the west, an Internet Café, an outdoor dining patio, and an auxiliary gymnasium.
Exterior view from the East showing the dark bronze clad higher building section stepping back around, and providing a contrasting background for the lighter colored shorter front elevation, with exposed column and overhang above corridor entry doors.
View from the entry of the lobby and display case, looking down the corridor, on the left, between the auditorium and commons
View from the auditorium through the open operable walls into the commons. When the wall is open it closes the main North/South corridor and extends the seating area into the commons. The auditorium audio system also extends into the commons.
View down the main North/South corridor showing the auditorium operable wall in the closed position.
Looking down the South facade to the East, the brick recedes at the metal building construction, and at the conventionally framed building areas, sits forward in a more traditional manner.
A view of the window and wall panel treatment on the North side of a classroom wing, near the bus drop off. The areas of the facade with lighter color treatment consistently had a brick wainscot. The areas with darker building colors were clad only in metal panel, whether on the front or rear of the building. Of course, this decision was driven by a need to be efficient with funds, but the design team used it as a basis to lay ground rules for the facade treatment of the building so it wasn't giving the building an undersigned back of house, but instead, making the back side of the building an integral part of the overall design.