Prairie High School

Cedar Rapids, Iowa
  • Client
    College Community School District
  • SQ. FT.
    279,374 renovation; 129,890 addition
  • Market

In 2014, after more than two decades partnering with the College Community School District on the execution of the long-term campus plan drafted by OPN in the mid-1990s, the firm and the district returned to the drawing board to revisit the 20-year-old master plan. Following a successful bond referendum in 2016, OPN began working with the district to finalize the phased implementation of the plan and begin design development for the projects.

The first is a renovation and re-imagination of the 60-year-old high school into a student-based learning center with collaboration spaces; teacher centers; technology-rich media center, enhanced security, open commons spaces; scatter-style cafeteria; outdoor plaza; and improved fine arts and science classrooms.

Beginning with a new façade and front entry, the facility will represent district leadership’s vision that a high school is the flagship of the district. The new entrance will have a card reader and video monitored buzz-in process, and will open directly to the office and other public-facing school services. The entrance will also move from the north side to the east exposure of the building creating a better connection to and circulation from the parking lot.

Immediately inside, a large commons area offers various seating and open areas for spontaneous collaboration, formal study, and socialization. The new cafeteria, set up like a food court, will include a variety of seating options. The media center too will be completely renovated with a coffee shop, maker and collaboration spaces and a blended learning classroom. Finally, a learning stair creates another place for students to learn in an open collaborative, technology enhanced environment.

Classroom utilization will be maximized by transitioning to a student-centered learning model. Teachers will be based out of four collaboration spaces, instead of dedicated to a single classroom. A new science wing features state-of-the-art equipment and music practice facilities include a rehearsal space dedicated to jazz band and show choir in addition to larger rehearsal areas for full ensembles and small practice rooms. Improvements to fitness facilities include new weight room, locker rooms, training rooms and a cardio fitness space. The television studio and career tech spaces will also be renovated and upgraded. Environmental graphics are used throughout the design, from large images of the school mascot in the commons, cafeteria, and athletic areas to abstract textural treatments in the stairwells.

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