The courtyard is an outdoor space and not an atrium. It will serve two purposes: (1) to allow natural light into all of the interior classrooms, and (2) serve as an outdoor overflow area for the cafeteria/commons as well as a secure outdoor teaching space.
Research demonstrates a clear correlation between classrooms with good natural light and improved student performance and school attendance. Natural light helps children concentrate and focus on tasks better; with natural light students are less distracted. Studies suggest that health is also enhanced with access to natural light.
A black box theater consists of a simple, somewhat unadorned performance space that is basically a large square room with black walls and a flat floor. It is a relatively recent innovation in theatre and significantly less costly to construct than an auditorium.
The shape of the building is intended to provide the most cost effective design that can accommodate the programmatic needs of the curriculum given the limited space available to construct the school between the existing middle and high schools.
The most current rendition of the floor plan has been refined since the original schematic design and eliminated the majority of angled walls. There are currently no angled walls in classrooms. The building footprint may appear angular which is driven by the constraints of existing site conditions such as the west side property line, existing school proximity and proposed realignment of School Road. The angled building footprint is a result of tapering the main corridors of the academic wings. These enlarged corridors will not only be used as circulation space but also for a Commons area for large and/or small group instruction to promote teacher and student collaboration and connectivity. If the corridors were not tapered but had a consistent width that was appropriate for the Commons area this would require an increase in building square footage.
The middle school educational program requires students to be located centrally in collaborative teaching teams. Team Teaching creates a “smaller” school environment, which is vital for this age group of students and is best arranged in a two-story structure.
With the band lot being used as the site of the new Middle School, the district has a responsibility to create a proper turf or blacktop rehearsal space for this (approx.) 140-member extra-curricular group. Grass is not an option as it cannot sustain the repetitive movement of students marching over the course of hours a day for 4-5 months from summer band camp until the last performance in late November. Although blacktop was considered, installing a turf field is favored as it will serve not only the Marching Band but also athletic venues (MTSD, community, and rentals) and physical education. Additionally, unlike asphalt, a variance of lot coverage is not required for a turf field.