As part of an overall $70M Referendum, Cordogan, Clark & Associates provided architecture design services for a new K-8 Middle School. In a joint venture with Concordia Architects, the plans for the new Middle School, located on a new 38-acre site in NW Aurora, incorporate a "Heartland" theme in keeping with the site's rural roots and the City of Aurora's West Side zoning plan.
At the outset of this project, administrators, parents and students alike were concerned with their middle school's new site: on the edge of town, bordering cornfields, far removed from the city center. Rather than try to minimize the impact of their countryside locale, architects and administrators embraced a "moving to the country" theme and made it an integral part of the new school's architecture and curriculum.
The site itself is constrained by a meandering stream. Instead of forcing the site to conform to a boxy structure, the building arranges itself along the stream. Stormwater management is achieved through natural techniques, including "rain gardens" that, in addition to providing water management, also create areas for students to pursue nature studies. The entire site is surrounded by a series of pathways connecting the rain gardens and other outdoor learning environments, including an outdoor amphitheater.
Throughout the project, the administration stressed the desire for both visual and physical openness in all the building's aspects. Both the mall and the classroom clusters make open and shared spaces possible, while retaining the option for smaller workspaces when desired. Extensive use of windows on the exterior walls brings the natural site into the classrooms.