Midtown Elementary School design receives Top Block Award

Nola | VanPeursem Architects, PC in Madison, AL, recently received the Alabama Concrete Industries Association’s “Top Block Award,” which recognized the use of concrete in its winning design of Midtown Elementary School.

Madison is a growing community with a rapidly expanding student population. The new Midtown Elementary School was designed to replace an aging elementary school down the road, and to provide more room for student growth. The new school is 128,000 square feet and will accommodate up to 900 students in grades Kindergarten through 5th. There are 55 classrooms, including Art, Music, Foreign Language, Science and STEM labs, as well as a Gym, Cafeteria and Media Center. Design of the building took approximately eight months and construction lasted 16 months.

One of the two-story classroom wings is a tornado shelter designed to accommodate the school’s occupants. It is constructed of 12” thick reinforced concrete block walls, a reinforced concrete lid, and tornado resistant windows. Concrete block is fire resistant, durable, and strong.

“We consider it the best option for a school, especially in areas of the building that get a lot of abuse, such as corridors, the cafeteria, and the gymnasium,” says Kathy Riggs, AIA, who designed the school. “For the owner, it is affordable, low maintenance, long-lasting, and retains its value over time. It also looks good!”

In addition to many of the school’s features, there is a spacious corridor that acts as a “main street” that weaves through the building and serves as the central circulation spine of the school.

“Rooms along this corridor have interior windows opening onto the main street, reinforcing the openness of the school, and bringing light into the corridor from the exterior,” says Riggs.

The 16-acre site is located on a busy street, with commercial areas on one side of the property and a quieter residential area on the other. Riggs responded to this unique site by locating the spaces in the building accordingly, with larger community-use spaces like the gym and cafeteria on the commercial side, and the classroom and outdoor play spaces on the quieter side.

The exterior image of the building answers to the city of Madison’s prevailing taste for traditional architecture, but with modern elements to express the community’s forward-thinking values. On the interior, the bright colors and the whimsical design of the lights and ceilings are intended to be fun and to reflect the playful nature of the building’s young occupants.

“I really like the composition and massing of the building and its relationship to the site, and I also love the warm and inviting interior, with its spacious corridors and brightly colored finishes. It was a fun and exciting project to work on,” says Riggs.

About NVP
Nola | Van Peursem Architects calls North Alabama home and relies on nearly 100% of its business from local clients. Client satisfaction is essential to their continued growth in the community. The firm counts seven area school systems, two local universities, numerous high-tech companies and most of the major regional governmental entities among our long-term repeat clients.

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