Linn-Mar Intermediate Schools

Marion, Iowa
  • Client
    Linn-Mar Community School District
  • SQ. FT.
  • Budget
  • Market
  • 2021 • AIA
    People's Choice 3rd Place

One of the fastest growing districts in the state, the Linn-Mar Community School District is at 91% capacity. At the current projected enrollment increase of 2 to 3% each year, the district will reach nearly 8,000 students by 2022-23. The district has outgrown and will continue to surpass its existing facilities. Based on feedback from staff, students, parents, and community members as well as facility assessments, OPN Architects assisted the Linn-Mar school board and district leadership in drafting a restructuring plan that will support this continued growth of the district.

As part of an overall restructuring plan to address capacity issues, Linn-Mar Community School District constructed two new identical intermediate buildings, each with a capacity for 800 fifth and sixth graders.

The building design incorporates a neighborhood concept that breaks down the size of the building more appropriate for 5/6 grade students. Eight independent neighborhoods are stacked two per floor in two wings, organized around a core with music, art, a gymnasium, cafeteria, project rooms, and special education spaces with a sensory room.

Each neighborhood includes classrooms, lockers, restrooms, and collaboration areas that support flexible learning, while still allowing teachers to oversee student activities both in and out of the classrooms. Classrooms are arranged along the exterior walls with curtain walls creating healthy, day-lit spaces as well as general spatial awareness and a connection to the outdoors.

The neighborhoods are identified by a unique color palette and over-sized numerals. Bolder hues distinguish the active, collaboration spaces. Toned-down shades of the same color are used in the classrooms. The neighborhood colors come together in shared student spaces such as the library. The district’s signature red is represented in public and activity areas.

Exterior materials complement the district’s existing palette. Stone and brick create contrast between the first and second stories, punctuated by dark metal panels around doors and windows.

Hazel Point, located adjacent to an existing elementary school, and Boulder Peak, in a rapidly growing area of the community, are architecturally identical with a site design specific to each location. Both include separate vehicle drop-off/pick-up areas from bus circulation, outdoor green space and playground areas, as well as secured perimeters with access control and secured/visible main entries for safety.

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