What were some of the features implemented to help foster education and creativity at Prairie Ridge? This new building replaces an old facility, and fits into the District’s long-range plan of developing 21st century schools that enhance student learning.

The new facility serves as a live teaching tool through the use of exposed construction, in certain areas, allowing students to visualize the building process. An educational information program located throughout the building also identifies sustainable features. The school features independent learning spaces, collaborative spaces, small group rooms, a “learning commons” and a flex-use room, which offer students the experience of a collaborative learning and working environment that will prepare them for the future workplace. Direct connection and views of the surrounding countryside allows for students to fulfill their natural curiosity through discovery of the landscape.

Other features include a whimsical music room formation that fosters creativity, a green roof patio, and a 2-story media center which opens to an outdoor amphitheatre.

How did Focal Point play a part in solving your energy and design requirements? For our project at Kalamazoo Public School’s Prairie Ridge Elementary, we wanted to select energy–efficient fixtures—particularly products that looked a little different from anything else. Adding a unique element to the space was important. Focal Point is on the cutting edge of product design—since the completion of this project, we’ve seen other manufacturers try to follow suit.

Prairie Ridge Elementary seems to be rather integrated with its surroundings. What was your approach to the overall design? Set into a sloping hillside, the building floor plan has a direct relationship to the site contours in order to minimize impact. The offset, two-story section was driven by the topography and allows all classrooms to have direct outdoor access.

Materials utilized represent a blend between the urban school district and the agricultural heritage. The brick demonstrates strength, tradition and history, while the corrugated metal panel pays respect to the agricultural heritage. The curtainwall acts as a contemporary link between the strong tradition and the promising future that the “Kalamazoo Promise” offers—a free college scholarship to all students.

If you have a project that you feel should be highlighted, please email us with your contact information and a brief description of the project.

“The Kalamazoo Promise”—that sounds rather ambitious. What exactly is the promise? Students within the Kalamazoo Public School District have been given an extraordinary and unique opportunity through a scholarship program called, “The Kalamazoo Promise” provided by anonymous donors. This program offers a free Michigan college scholarship to every Kalamazoo Public School student (amount based on years of attending schools within the district). TowerPinkster has been assisting the district for more than 20 years and most recently designed Prairie Ridge Elementary (the district’s first new school in 30 years). The facility promises to serve as a flagship for Kalamazoo Public Schools as the district heads into the future and continues to construct facilities that fulfill, “The Promise”.

For more information on The Kalamazoo Promise, visit www.kalamazoopromise.com.

This might be the first time that our audience has heard of TowerPinkster. What would you like to tell them? TowerPinkster is a creative solutions architecture and engineering firm, committed to the enhancement of the built and natural environment and to the design of superior, healthy, sustainable environments for clients and communities. TowerPinkster utilizes imagination, innovation and integration to create bold, transforming results while striving for service excellence, collaboration and inclusion. Active listening—and an integrated team of architects and engineers—results in innovative problem solving and imaginative ideas.

We take pride in the strength of our project management expertise to interface with clients and manage multi-discipline teams in a collaborative effort to design and develop successful and holistic projects. We believe we should never do less than our best—for every client—every time.

You’re not exactly a new kid on the block either! First organized in 1953 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, TowerPinkster has since grown to include a staff of more than 70 professionals, with offices in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. The firm maintains expertise in architectural design, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, interior design and landscape architecture.

Since its founding, TowerPinkster has provided professional services in several key focus areas, including education, health care, and facilities for government.