- Client: Wisner-Pilger Public Schools
- Project Architect: Darin Hanigan
- Additional Project Team: Joyce Raybuck, Jon Wiles, Amy Dishman, and Kaitlin Frankforter
- City: Wisner
- Country: United States
Text description provided by the architects. On June 24, 2014, EF-4 twin tornadoes ripped through the town of Pilger. The Wisner-Pilger elementary school located in Pilger was destroyed and the district had to respond quickly. Studies were done on the viability of rehabilitation of the 1909 building but the devastation was too great. The middle school and high school are located in Wisner but on different campuses. Studies explored a variety of options and in the end, moving all grade levels PreK-12 to one campus in Wisner was the best solution.
The design of the project was driven by the unique pedagogy of the school district. A variety of spaces where designed to be tactile, break down long corridors, create connections to the outdoors, allow learning opportunities through the architecture and elevate the learning environment using natural diffused daylighting strategies. Natural materials, custom metal wall panels, trackable and writable surfaces, along with lots of glass are used to evoke a creative and engaging learning environment.
Interpretative corridor walls elevate math, geography, and languages into interactive walls that help contextualize classroom activities. The building structure is a glue laminated exposed structure to allow a first-hand investigation of how the building functions while also bringing a warmth and natural material into the learning environment.
Natural daylighting strategies bring ample light into the classrooms and resource spaces. In-depth design options were analyzed to determine the optimal mix of diffuse skylights, clear windows, and windows veiled with a perforated metal screen. The exterior shell of the building was examined to determine the appropriate amount of wall insulation and window ratios to optimize efficiency while also creating a stimulating environment. Several simulations were run to maximize daylighting while minimizing glare in the classrooms.
Classroom windows were arranged to support the educational activities. High windows are kept away from the teaching wall to minimize glare on whiteboards. Low windows are situated where reading carpets & nooks are envisioned. Standard height windows are located at appropriate heights to allow views for students at desks. The overall arrangement creates a dynamic facade while serving the educational needs goals at each grade level.
The movement of windows on the exterior facade gives the building a playful design, however, this building was designed from the interior out. The exterior was designed to fit within the existing context and create a unified campus. However the projects main design intentions were driven by the learning environments. The exterior is a response to the activities designed on the interior space.