Blue Valley Southwest High School
Overland Park, Kansas
Square Footage: 300,000
Located in Overland Park, Kansas, a southern suburb of Kansas City, Blue Valley Unified School District 229 serves over 20,000 students in grades Pre-K to 12. In the fall of 2006, Perkins+Will was asked by Blue Valley Unified School District 229 to facilitate a series of participatory workshops that would result in a facility program statement for the District’s fifth High School to be ready for the 2010/2011 academic year. These program guidelines were translated into a dynamic high school environment.
Sited on a sloping 112 acre site, the 300,000 square foot high school will serve 1,600 students in grades 9-12. The design is organized around a courtyard, with all common spaces: theater lobby, administration, cafeteria, library, and cyber cafe opening directly onto this central space. The courtyard allows students an easy connection to the outdoors in a safe and secure manner. Recognizing that students tend to gather in small groups, the sloping courtyard permits several distinct zones: an amphitheater, breakout patio for the theater patrons, open green space, and seating terraces for the library and cafeteria.
The academic area has been organized into four small learning communities. These spaces are designed to move easily between a variety of curricular models: grade level houses, academic departments, or interdisciplinary academies. At the heart of the academic zone is the media center and a distributed administrative suite. The outstretched wings of the academic communities are linked to the library and administrative zone by "Flexible Teaching and Learning Areas (FTLAs)" which allow larger, more flexible teaching spaces for special projects, team gatherings, and informal common space.
The new school incorporates many sustainable design ideas. Central to this effort is a below floor, quiet, displaced air delivery system which allows improved indoor air quality and thermal comfort while using less energy to deliver conditioned air. The building features generous natural day lighting, with borrow lights throughout the interior, indirect lighting with higher ceilings, and daylight sensors. The building has high-reflectance roofing materials and locally produced materials such as Kansas brick and limestone. The school was sited with careful attention to solar orientation to minimize heat gain yet maximize views. An existing pond was enhanced to collect storm water run-off and provide water for irrigation of the surrounding landscape.