Quora Education Center was designed by Minneapolis-based Lawal Scott Erickson (LSE) Architects, Inc., as a replacement for and on the same property as the district’s Capitol View Center – a 1950s-era traditional brick school building with poor acoustics and a lack of private learning spaces for students receiving special education services. LSE Architects led a two-year study to determine the best design “to meet the needs of students who learn best in a safe environment free from the auditory and visual distractions found in the original school,” according to an architect’s statement.
To address these issues, LSE Architects designed the new center with flexible learning spaces for small groups and one-on-one instruction as well as with more sensory rooms and natural lighting. Interior decor includes soft, movable teen friendly furniture. Attention to students’ needs also is reflected in the selection of a sensory friendly natural color palette for the school’s exterior.
Quora Education Center is clad in a total of 24,300 square feet of 4mm ALUCOBOND® PLUS aluminum composite material (ACM) from the Natural and Spectra Collections, including: 12,500 square feet of Rusted Metal, 9,600 square feet of Chestnut, 1,400 square feet of Ocean and 800 square feet of Amazon.
Quora’s special education programs serve students with autism spectrum disorders, developmental cognitive disabilities, emotional/behavioral disorders and other health disabilities.
The selection of a natural color palette of ALUCOBOND® PLUS installed as building cladding helped to fulfill a critical design goal that “the building should not be flashy or overly colorful” to avoid distressing students with special needs, according to Guy Davidson, AIA, senior designer, LSE Architects.
“Given the former building’s inadequate site and play areas, I began to think about maximizing the children’s experience in their new play areas and how to make the building reflect that feeling,” said Davidson. “The Chestnut wood-finish and Rusted Metal ALUCOBOND panels were an easy, natural fit into the natural landscape idea. Those colors became the unifying overall body of the building. The building’s separate programs came to be signified by the use of the ALUCOBOND Spectra Amazon and Ocean panels – especially at the separate entries for these programs. I wanted kids looking from the playground to the building to see the sparkle of the Ocean blue and Amazon green panels and be uplifted but not distressed. The new site is delightfully expansive and natural. I think that natural feeling was also delivered in our building design.”
The ALUCOBOND® PLUS Natural and Spectra colored ACM panels were juxtaposed with red brick on the building’s façade. “The owner loves the brick because the iron spot elements within each brick give the walls life with a scattered sparkle rather than the wall becoming a large singular element,” said Davidson. “The color is warm but stays a bit in the background to allow the other materials equal play.”
Davidson said the selection of the Rusted Metal and Chestnut ALUCOBOND® PLUS panels will keep the building from becoming “dated” and provide ease of maintenance for the school district.
“The fact that I could get the timeless look of wood and rusted metal in long-lasting ALUCOBOND material – instead of actual wood, for example – is great,” said Davidson. “This building was the third constructed by this owner within three years, so they are very sophisticated about what materials work and last.”
Davidson brought the exterior natural color theme indoors by incorporating Rusted Metal panels as an interior accent in the center’s main vestibule. He described this interior design choice as “sometimes fun to put a piece of material at touch level to make the rest of the material that’s not touchable that much more familiar.”