Reeds Spring Middle School
Architect: Dake Wells Architecture
Owner: Reeds Spring R-IV School District
Location: Reeds Spring, Missouri
Organized around themes found in the surrounding landscape, this new middle school was built on previously undeveloped land in an effort to unite it with the school district’s high school and three elementary schools. Supported and inspired by a collaborative master planning process, the design team and client jointly pursued an environmental ethic to preserve the natural beauty of the site.
Although Reeds Spring is regarded as one of Missouri’s most innovative school districts — due to its piloting of new teaching styles and being the first among its peers to equip every student with a mobile device — its existing middle school lacked the forward thinking embodied by the community. The new school provides the first storm safe rooms for the district, establishing a model for future school buildings in the area.
"This theme of preserving the environment permeated the design process. " ~ Jury statement
Echoing four common Ozark elements — caves, bluffs, streams, and sheds — the program for the school includes a competition gym and 1,000-seat auditorium tucked into the hillside and adorned with a vegetated roof. Digging into the hillside provides maximum storm safety for the tornado-prone area, and a 480-foot-long retaining wall helps secure the edge of the safe rooms, which are in high demand in school districts across Missouri.
Inside, a three-story atrium flooded with daylight greets students and visitors and serves as the school’s central collector. There, vertical wood slats recall the trees surrounding the school while veiling the classroom spaces just beyond. Abundant daylight streaking through the slats casts interesting shadows on the adjacent textured wall.
Marker boards, wireless access points, and convenient charging stations for the district-issued mobile devices are scattered throughout and located in a number of classroom spaces. Countertops, soft seating, and an outdoor classroom accessible from each floor emphasize the concept that learning happens everywhere.
"Such a clear concept organized the program around elements found in the Ozark landscape led to beautiful execution. Buried in a hill, yet bursting full of daylight is praiseworthy." ~ Jury statement