Clear Creek North Bend Elementary
The Clear Creek Amana Community School District—one of the fastest growing districts in the state of Iowa—was in need of a new elementary school. The new facility would be Pre-K through 5th grade and based on growth projections should be built for 300 students initially, but needed to be planned for expansion up to 500 in the near future. The City of North Liberty, where the new facility would be built, also wanted to partner with the school district for the after-hours use of the gymnasium to support its growing demands for recreational space. Administrators, teachers, school board and community members alike desired a facility that reflected the latest in educational thinking, technology and sustainable design.
At the very beginning of the design process it was established that the curricular needs of the elementary students would be the basis for all design decisions. Through the design process it was established that the new facility must be 1) flexible and able to accommodate a multitude of different teaching and learning styles, both spatially and technologically, and 2) comfortable, providing an environment that is both physically and mentally comfortable in order to minimize distractions and maximize a student’s engagement in learning.
Responding to the criteria, the new building features two learning centers with six classrooms clustered around an open multi-purpose room used for both small and large group collaborations. Each learning center also includes a teacher prep area that also serves small group and special education needs, and a paved, outdoor courtyard area. The entire facility provides wireless access to the districts network and each classroom has the latest in educational technology, with multiple points for students to use the technology.
In response to future growth and community needs, the facility was built with educational space for 300 students, but core facilities—media center, kitchen, cafeteria, and administration—were built for 500. Space was then planned on the site for the addition of a third Learning Center pod when needed. The gymnasium was located at the west end of the facility with a set of restrooms for public use. This allows the community to use the space without having to enter the rest of the school.
Designed using the sustainable principals of LEED, the facility is heated and cooled by a geothermal field. All occupied spaces have access to ample natural light and lighting is all high efficiency controlled by occupancy sensors. All building materials are durable, easy to maintain and recyclable.
North Bend Elementary is prepared to meet the district’s growth needs for the near future. It was designed with flexible spaces, easily adaptability to new technologies, and is expandable in order to serve the district well into the future. Using sustainable principles, the facility operates at almost 50% less than comparable buildings in the district. Designed to provide an environment that maximizes a student’s engagement, North Bend is prepared to meet the evolving educational needs of the 21st century.
Note: The third learning center was constructed during the 2012-2013 school year, opening in August 2013. Because the school was designed to accommodate this future expansion, the district was able to construct this addition with no disruptions to the existing facility. In fact, collaborating with a very cooperative contractor, the teachers actually used the construction site as a very engaging learning opportunity.