In May of 2011 a tornado flattened the existing Joplin High School and left 1,200 students without a home for the following school year. It was quickly determined that an existing ‘big box’ retail building constructed in the mid-80s and left vacant for over 10 years would be a suitable site to convert for an interim school building. The intent is for the school to occupy the building for three years which set forth particular design considerations towards which elements would be movable into the new school (e.g. carpet tiles, swing gate doors) and which elements could be reused for a following tenant (e.g. job training, adult education).
The large open space (9m x 9m column spacing, 4.3m floor to ceiling height) and a mechanical system sufficient to meet the increased occupancy load allowed the designers to provide the school with a wide range of versatile spaces for a variety of educational and social activities. Material, spatial and solution choices provoke the users to appropriate the space providing a sense of ownership and identity with the building lending them more likely to both adapt the space and/ or themselves to fit their evolving needs.
Image credits: Images courtesy of DLR Group