West Branch Community School District

West Branch, Iowa
  • Client
    West Branch Community School District
  • SQ. FT.
    101,486 square feet (addition)75,000 square feet (renovation)
  • Budget
  • Market
  • Year

In 2019, after two failed referendums, West Branch Community School District hired OPN to complete a thorough assessment of all facilities and facilitate community and facility committee meetings to devise a solution that would receive community support and enable the district to improve and consolidate facilities.

The final solution, endorsed by the facilities committee and approved by the board included an addition to the existing high school for high school students to create space to move the middle school students into the current high school.

The original building utilized high windows with a “dug in” classroom design, the windows were located on the top third of the exterior wall. This was not optimal for exterior views and limited daylight into the classrooms. As part of the middle school renovation of the space, the exterior wall was lowered allowing more window area and views out of the building, providing much more daylight into the space. Along with the windows, a complete renovation of the middle school portion of the building included new finishes, mechanical systems, ADA accessibility, and a complete “rethinking” of the media center.A large red entry canopy identifies the new high school entry. Large windows, brick, and metal panels are used on the building addition. Windows were enlarged and metal panels were added to the existing high school to blend with the addition.

As the main connector for the high school addition, the new high school classrooms, auditorium, and high school competition gymnasium can be accessed from the commons. A large skylight fills the space with daylighting, and durable floor and wall finishes are used throughout this space.
Also connecting the high school and middle school is a new 630+ seat auditorium with, a partial orchestra pit, and the capability to fly scene sets on the stage. A renovated band room is co-located with a flattened floor for flexibility and new windows. The existing high school gymnasium is also renovated and includes a new wood floor and bleacher capacity up to more than 1,360 people.

The heart of the high school addition, the Bear Den is the main central space used for collaboration and a social space for students. A clerestory window floods the space with natural lighting and a multitude of different collaboration spaces are shown — small conference rooms, benching and countertop spaces, and a learning stair component.


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