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  ECHO Academy, Page 34ECHO Academy

111 East College Street, Iowa City, IA 52240

Tiffin, Iowa
Total Square Feet: 4,800
Construction Period: June 2003 to Dec 2003 

STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Neumann Monson Architects - 111 East College Street, Iowa City, 52240
GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Frye Builders & Associates, Inc. - 2213 Second Avenue, Muscatine, IA 52761
ELECTRICAL & MECHANICAL ENGINEER: Design Engineers PC - 2801 Sixth Street, S.W., Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
COST ESTIMATOR: Neumann Monson Architects - 111 East College Street, Iowa City, IA 52240

The Clear Creek-Amana School District planned to build a separate High School to provide an alternative learning environment for students. From the onset, the design for the Echo Academy project was destined to be unique. The make up of the design team, the rural site, the desire for green architecture strategies and the intention to use the facility and its grounds as a teaching tool all ensured the unconventional nature of the project.

The design team included architects, engineers, administrators, community representatives, teachers and students. These stakeholders came together early in the design process during a weekend design charrette where 40 people generated ideas which were integrated into the final design.

The building is comprised of four homeroom-style classrooms which support both singular and group learning and allow students to have their own personal space. The perimeter of each classroom accommodates a series of built-in computer "desks" complete with mobile storage units which house project materials and can travel anywhere within the building when necessary. Large exterior windows admit an abundance of daylight, making the artificial lights unnecessary on most days.

Each classroom feeds directly into a large great room which acts as the spine of the building and becomes the "living room" for student and community activities. The south end is composed largely of windows with sunscreens on the exterior controlling glare and heat gain. Remotely controlled operable clerestory windows at about 25-feet high admit indirect daylight. Together with the operable windows on the south wall, a convective loop is created to exhaust warm air from the space naturally. A kitchen is located off of the great room where communal learning occurs as the students and faculty prepare meals together. The rest of the building accommodates support space and faculty offices.

The rural 4 acre site is decidedly separate from the District's High School campus and is surrounded by a peaceful river valley and rural fields. Adjacent to the Academy is a wetland septic system which was researched and planned by students and their teacher. This system allows filtered waste water to be used to sustain wetland plant growth. The students also planned rain gardens that utilize reclaimed storm water runoff from the roof and parking area. These unconventional systems were presented by the students to the School Board for District approval. Students also selected appropriate plant and tree species for the site, grew them from seedlings, planted them and nurtured their growth. This growing ecosystem has been incorporated into the science curriculum.

Additional sustainable initiatives include a geothermal well field which uses the Earth's constant temperature to provide heating and cooling. The building is designed to accept future passive and active solar energy systems, such as photovoltaics and a trombe wall, to offer new lessons in science and sustainable architecture to students and the community.

DIV 07:
Asphalt Shingles: Cer tainteed; Weatherization System: Tyvek.
DIV 08: Aluminum Clad Windows: Pella; Wood Doors: Graham.
DIV 09: Fiber Cement Board: James Hardie; Paint: Sherwin Williams; Acoustical Treatment: USG.

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