Ryan Middle School

Fairbanks, Alaska
Meaningful and Engaged Middle School Education

With a newly renovated gymnasium on campus, Fairbanks North Star Borough School District was in need of a middle school that would connect both functionally and aesthetically, as well as align educational goals and facility needs.

Inspired by the beauty of nature within and around the Fairbanks area, Ryan Middle School brings elements of its extraordinary context into the design of the building through form, color, and light. Many spaces offer settings for students to work collaboratively while being supervised by multiple teachers. Abundant collaboration space supports project-based learning, while smaller spaces allow for independent study, building social skills and encouraging innovation.

The students and teachers support one another in this open environment, which fosters a sense of curiosity and compels them to explore new ideas and activities, creating a real sense of community.

The exterior took its cues from the birch forests through use of black-edged white paneling, accented with greens and yellows, the interior was conceived of as a series of objects in the local context.

A double-height undulating colored glass wall encloses the school library.
The school’s media center opens to the commons area, expanding opportunities for larger groups of students to experience media resources.
Classrooms are highly flexible to accommodate changing activities, multiple teaching modes, and diverse learning styles.

They feature operable partitions between classes, allowing rooms to expand and offering transparency to the project resource area.

The warmth of wood was brought in through the ceilings to complement the bright colors.
A school that responds to its natural surroundings, creating pride of place in central Alaska.

Associate Architect:
Bettisworth North Architects and Planners

Project Team

Aimee Eckmann
Todd Snapp
Steve Turckes