High School Prototypes, Pickens County School District

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As a prototypical design for four new high schools in the Pickens County School District, this project focused on functional value and strong community connections. The design for each major area (administration, guidance, cafeteria, media center, fine arts, athletics, and classroom wing) reflects the joint effort between our design team and the principals from four separate high schools. Together, we developed a prototypical spatial arrangement that can be increased in size from school to school based on the varying core capacities (880, 1350, 1780, and 2000 across the four schools). This undertaking by the district’s administration, school leadership, and design team created considerable challenges regarding reaching consensus on a design to serve an entire county of approximately 6,000 students annually. Facilities all over the country and state were toured as benchmarks to determine first hand:

1. How best to organize public spaces and instructional areas for ease of accessby student, teacher, parent, or member of the community via all modes of transportation; externally, internally, during school hours, and after school use, while maintaining a secure environment that allows for focused learning in both traditional and flexible settings.

2. How best to develop a building framework that consistently supports the key spacesof a high school facility common to four different areas of the county while allowing the flexibility to incorporate unique programs (either previously established or desired in future) that are individualized to each school.

3. How best to share a prototypical plan across four separate attendance areas, four varying sites, and four increasing capacities,while capturing the spirit, ownership, and support of each community. Through public input sessions we also incorporated into our design the general feel, external appearance, interior design, and use of school colors that reflects both the storied history and promising future of each of the four new high schools.

The challenges were many, but the rewards were significant. With the prototype design, the district achieved equality while providing flexibility to each school; equity from the principals, staff, and administration; ownership from the community and students; and using shared planning / detailing, achieved cost savings to the individual taxpayers funding the construction of each new facility.