A new central building at Thaden School in Bentonville, Arkansas, uses different architectural techniques along with the use of pedagogy to aid in student learning and improve the educational experience.
EskewDumezRipple, in collaboration with Marlon Blackwell Architects, Andropogon, and CMTA, was tasked with designing the 3159 m2 (34,000 sf) Home Building.
The school’s pedagogy is centered on three programs: Reels, where narrative and visual communication come alive through the production of film and video; Wheels, where physics and mechanics come alive through the construction and use of bicycles; and Meals, where biology, chemistry, and community come alive through the growing and preparation of food.
Using techniques typically found in residential design, the project team pushed the simple form to its limit, opening the floor plan to create porches and courtyards, and sloping the roof up to a 11.5 m (38 ft) tall peak at its center. The roof plane enshrouds the simple gable form of the dining hall. A skyward opening punctures the roof of the outdoor courtyard where students frequently congregate outside the dining hall. Students take classes in a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, deeply espousing the school’s “learning by doing” mantra.
In the rear of the Home Building, a “water lab” detains the majority of rainwater, while offering a “classroom outside the classroom.” Low-flow plumbing fixtures are used throughout the building, which will save roughly 113.5 L (30 gal), or about 378,542 L (100,000 gal) of water each year.
A geothermal well field sited directly on the large quad in front of the Home Building was selected instead of a traditional cooling tower, resulting in water savings. The Home Building was designed to achieve an Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 23. The later addition of a rooftop photovoltaic array could likely achieve Zero Energy (ZE). An outdoor air system ensures occupants have fresh air throughout the entire building. By bringing all outdoor air into the building at a single location, it can be passed through an enthalpy wheel, which transfers heat from the exhaust air to the incoming air which provides dehumidification.