After conducting extensive facility assessments and a Long-range Master Plan for the Lebanon School District, it was determined that the most pressing need for their students was to construct a new Middle School. By combining 6th grade through 8th grade into a single structure, the existing Middle School (circa 1924, 1939) and 6th grade School (circa 1951) could be partially decommissioned and re-purposed to serve other district functions.
Understanding the culture and history of Lebanon was an integral part in developing the organization and plan of the new building. Lebanon’s historic significance stemmed from connecting communities through the first telegraph line that ran through the town, from St. Louis to Springfield, which became known as the “Wire Road” along Route 66. Inspired by the Wire Road’s ability to connect different communities together, the design strives to connect the different grades together along a continuous pathway from 6th through 8th.
In addition, the new facility needed to provide cutting edge technology, adaptable spaces, and “21st Century” learning environments. Simultaneously, providing traditional educational spaces and the compartmentalization of different subject areas were important program goals that would serve the Lebanon students for decades to come.
The solution required a didactic approach. Each grade was positioned to function as a “house” where the Core curriculum would be taught, while the enrichment courses were centralized to minimize travel distance and disruption to the school during open bell. By compartmentalizing the grades into separate houses, the students benefit from a “Small-school” environment where they get to know their fellow students and teachers.
In connecting back to the historical significance of the telegraph lines – state-of-the-art technology in its time – the building was organized along two intersecting “roads” where information is exchanged. The main Gallery transmits students, teachers and parents between the Administration, Performing Arts, P.E, and Cafeteria up through to the entrance on the opposite side. The Wire Road” – the main corridor connecting the three houses – represents the transmission of ideas and knowledge as the students graduate to each consecutive grade. At the crossroads, the Media Center and Fine Arts classrooms are on display, juxtaposed from the I.T. department’s server room, fully encased in glass for all the students to see.
Within the building, cable trays and conduits are exposed to teach the students about their built environment, allowing them to learn 3-dimensionally and connect visually to each component of the systems that operate the facility. At corridor intersections, “Aperture windows” flood the junctions with natural daylight and provide access to outdoor classrooms.