When architects of the new Midvale Middle suggested cloistering the library in a quiet corner of the building, the school’s Media Specialist said, “Sorry, but that just won’t do.”
The library, she explained, should be at the center of the school. It should be an open, inviting space for students to hang out with friends, study, check email, or play an educational videogame. It should be a place to collaboratively explore, create, and even make noise — a place where students find common ground in common interests.
The architects agreed, and the communal design ethic they embraced is evident throughout the entire building. The red brick structure, with its art deco embellishes, reflects Midvale’s ethnically diverse and industrial, working class roots, says VCBO Architecture Associate Brian Peterson. “It evokes strength, strength of unity and strength of purpose.”
The building, which opens next fall, was certainly cause for celebration for teachers who got their first look inside on Friday. Upon seeing his spacious and fully-equipped classroo
m, seventh-grade science teacher John Henrichsen gave Peterson a bear hug. Currently, his students don’t have easy access to a clean-up station. In the new building, it will be within arm’s reach, saving Henrichsen precious instructional time.
If the new building will be more efficient, it will also be more welcoming. Amenities such as, the state-of-the-art auditorium and TV broadcast room, will expose students to a variety of educational experiences at a time when that’s what their fast-developing brains crave. Modern heating, cooling and wiring will make for a more comfortable learning environment adaptable to the latest technologies. Floor-to-ceiling windows will let in natural light, and a student lounge equipped with programmable neon lighting is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
This building will be a resource for the entire community, Peterson said. Its tiered design helps it blend into the surrounding neighborhood, and its fields and multi-use space and catering kitchen will become a gathering place for neighborhood events.
With this fall’s opening of Midvale Middle and Altara Elementary, and next year’s completion of the remodel of Indian Hills Middle, Canyons School District will have fulfilled promises made to voters as part of a $250 million bond approved in 2010. In all, the District will have completed 13 major improvements without raising taxes and while maintaining a ‘AAA’ bond rating.
In the seven years since the bond was passed, Canyons has built a new Corner Canyon High, rebuilt Midvale Elementary, renovated Albion Middle, added seismic improvements to Sandy Elementary, a new Draper Park Middle, rebuilt Butler Middle, a new Butler Elementary, additions to Brighton and Hillcrest high schools, and rebuilt Mount Jordan Middle.
Additionally, the District added air conditioning to every school that did not previously have cooling air; security vestibules at all elementary schools; a soccer field, tennis courts and athletic fields near Brighton high; upgraded Alta High and made other improvements to Canyons facilities.