Northwoods Elementary School

School District of La Crosse, Wisconsin

The challenge of the project was to integrate two different philosophical approaches. This school is based on traditional school planning ideas: fully enclosed classrooms, larger yet similar kindergarten rooms, gymnasium and a small kitchen facility. However, the facility had to accommodate the 1990s curriculum diversity and technical support spaces: special education, large group instuction, media center, computer lab, outdoor classroom, administration, music and art.

The 1940s model school, a long corridor with classrooms along each side, was split down the corridor. Hinged at one end, the diagram was wedged open to allow for the injection of the 1990s philosophy into the "heart" of the school. To highlight the fusion of the new functions, three main pieces took on distinctive cube-like forms: administration, music, and art. To emphasize the fracture in the traditional school, a series of clerestory cubes march along the "old" corridor from the entry to the outdoor classroom.