HORACE MIDDLE SCHOOL ADDITION AND REMODELING
The auditorium was a 1940's structure with a seating capacity of approximately 400. Although the room was not air-conditioned, it had fans for ventilation. In our design we removed the fans and used that space for the new A/C system. We created a really beautiful ceiling with the ducts running inside a series of soffits which created a coffered ceiling. Then, the flat areas between the coffers had downlighting. The ceiling area above the stage was tilted to make for better acoustics. Acoustical panels were put on the side and back walls to absorb the sound and deaden reverberation. A handicap lift was worked into the design with the least obstrusiveness possible, but at the same time allowed the handicapped students to go up on the stage. The administration was particularly complimentary to United Architects for the work they had done in the design of the school auditorium.
This project in North Miami came to us because the school needed more classroom space and the auditorium did not have air-conditioning. In addition, the teachers needed more space as well. Most of the time the teachers' space is one large room which offers no privacy for the teachers. The classrooms often have windows which are too high and/or have metal louvers which makes visibility for the students next to impossible.
In our building we wanted both the teachers and the students to have a pleasant experience, a relaxed learning environment. The school system and its code regulate strictly the number or square feet per student and the number of students per classroom.
In our case the creativity came in how we oriented the classrooms, with the windows having wide overhangs above, and overlooking the play fields. The windows were impact-resistant casement windows sufficiently low that the children could look out the windows. The natural lighting gave each room a very spacious, open feeling.
The teacher planning areas were divided into 3 areas, each situated between two classrooms. With this configuration, the teacher planning areas served almost like private offices. The teachers loved these spaces.
This entire Horace Mann project consisted of the addition of a classroom building with 6 classrooms, teacher planning rooms, and boys' and girls' toilets; the complete interior remodeling of the auditorium, including adding air-conditioning; the updating of the cafeteria; the creation of sidewalks and ramps which were handicap accessible; the replacement of some railings; and the creation of music and band rooms.