Tri-North Middle School

Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC) identified the need to replace the aging Tri-North Middle School. CSO and BrainSpaces, an expert in brain-based educational planning and design, led a visioning and programming process that enabled CSO to design a new building tailored to the specific needs and vision of Tri-North students, teachers, and administrators.

The building layout utilizes next generation learning elements including an open media center, collaboration spaces, and small group rooms throughout the building. Teachers and administrators expressed the need for spaces to be flexible and adaptable to a rapidly changing educational world. CSO’s design addresses the need for flexibility by implementing features such as the use of operable theater seating in the Performance / Large Group Instruction space, operable partitions in Science and STEM labs, and spaces that are planned to facilitate the use of both departmental and interdisciplinary teaching models.

MCCSC also emphasized the need for sustainable design considerations which were implemented with plans for a geothermal system, solar array on the gym roof, and use of local materials and native plants. The new Tri-North Middle School has become a crown jewel for this Bloomington community.

Plainfield Community Middle School

Originating as Plainfield High School in 1956, the building has been expanded and renovated more than sixteen times over the last 60 years.

CSO’s design solution emphasized impacting learning environments, improving building circulation, and upgrading finishes, lighting, and technology throughout the building. The most dramatic change to the building is a new two-story corridor that cuts through a large portion of the existing building. This new space creates a student commons and a clear main entry for the building. The renovated media center and new STEAM focused ‘Idea Lab’ are placed directly adjacent to the student commons, helping to emphasize their importance to the school.
Classrooms were reorganized into grade level specific areas to breakdown the large footprint of the building. Designers capitalized on underutilized space throughout the building by removing walls to corridors to create shared collaboration and break out spaces for teachers to utilize throughout the day.

Various construction types and methods from multiple eras posed a unique challenge for CSO’s designers. By thinking creatively and relying on their expertise, they were able to breathe new life into this building.

Central Middle School

The replacement project for Central Middle School started with a series of workshops involving students, administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and Columbus community members. The goals for Central Middle School were to prepare for change in the future, promote collaboration through student-centered teams, integrate technology, incorporate flexible spaces, encourage community use and partnerships, and create a secure yet accessible environment.

CSO worked in collaboration with Perkins + Will to plan a flexible facility that would accommodate future growth and curriculum changes. The school is zoned into two components: an academic zone and a public zone. In the academic zone, spaces are grouped together to support the middle school team model and create a smaller scale environment for students, while remaining flexible for future teaching needs. Twenty four classrooms are grouped into teams consisting of three classrooms, a laboratory, and a shared space. Public spaces are separated from academic spaces by the building’s main entry. A multi-story commons acts as a cafeteria and multi-functional hub for students.

The use of historic signage and façade elements allow this new school to blend in with historic downtown Columbus. Significant green spaces create an educational park for the town while maintaining a neighborhood identity.