Emerging from a collaborative design process between students and architects, Dixon Middle School is the manifestation of a contemporary educational paradigm. Organized along the north-south axis, the Learning Commons operates as an enclosed courtyard, giving students an alternative to the conventional four-walled classroom. Varied in their form and materiality, a family of Collaboration Nodes dances through this light-filled volume. Transversely, a sequence of Gathering Hall spaces intersects, visually extending through the Library, to the landscape beyond. This project not only posits a supportive environment for self-driven learning, it reframes the very relationship between student and school.
In response to an ambitious project-based curriculum, Dixon Middle School provides an array of study areas and maker spaces, immersing its 65 teachers and 950 students in an inspiring, aleatory educational experience. The 150,000 square-foot facility uses spatial combinations of many scales, transparencies, and functions to allow everything from private discussions and small group experiments, to multi-class exploration and student body assemblies. Through the interplay of exposed structure, double-height ceilings, and clerestory lighting, the Learning Commons serves as a public concourse for both social and academic interaction within a sophisticated and stimulating atmosphere. The school features one-to-one computing supported by a Technology Hub, located at the heart of the Learning Commons. Through meaningful and intentional design, this project embodies a commitment to innovative pedagogical models, promoting more effective learning, living, and well-being.
The central Gathering Hall and Learning Commons are framed with structural steel and clad with metal panel and curtain-wall systems. The main gymnasium is capped with bowstring trusses and a standing-seam barrel roof. The remaining wings of the building are comprised of load-bearing masonry with brick and block veneer, metal panel cladding, storefront windows, aluminum canopies, and a single-ply roofing membrane. Sustainable features include optimal building orientation for daylight design, on-site storm water management through constructed wetlands, reduced curb-and-gutter for both cost savings and invasive run-off reduction, brick and block construction for longevity, LED light fixtures, ducted air returns for better efficiency and less above-ceiling sound transfer, with an anticipated Energy Star Certification.