With an aging and
outdated school facility—parts of it nearly a century old—the Town of Deer
Trail was overdue for a new school. Last week, School District 26J welcomed
students into an entirely new facility—the first time the community could make
such a claim since its heyday in the early 1920s. MOA ARCHITECTURE led the
design of the project and Fransen Pittman served as general contractor.
The new Deer Trail
PK-12 School is a 74,250-SF facility, which spans Pre-Kindergarten to 12th
grade and includes vocational technology classrooms and labs, athletics,
commons, administration space and offices, music suite, and multi-purpose
performance space. While the facility brings together the entire student
population in a single building, it separates primary from secondary school
functions even within shared spaces, such as the commons. The two classroom
wings split grade levels into different floors and create open, collaborative
spaces between the classrooms.
The opening of the
facility is well-timed for Deer Trail, as the town experiences steady
population growth, driven in part by the outward expansion of the nearby Denver
metro area. A new 150-home housing development directly adjacent to the campus epitomizes
the area’s ongoing growth.
For this small, rural
community, which is located 60 miles east of Denver along the I-70 corridor,
the new facility will be more than a school. Housing the new Davies Public
Library and providing after-hours access to the fitness center as well as other
multi-purpose spaces, the facility will be a true community center. A
ribbon-cutting ceremony prior to the District’s back-to-school night gave the
community a chance to explore the new building.
Given the importance
of the project to the town, the community was closely involved in the planning
and design stages of the campus.
“We always bring the
community into our design process for schools,” said Eric Vogel, design
principal at MOA. “But for this project, we knew how key it was to really
integrate their thinking into this process, knowing how much use the facility
would get from the community.”
For over a century,
the area around Deer Trail has been a center for agriculture, with an economy based
in farming and ranching. The importance of related trade skills to the area
informed the design of the facility’s Career & Technical Education (CTE)
program, which includes an agriculture laboratory, as well as welding and
construction trade laboratories. The program will give students a path to
graduation that offers them both a high school diploma and marketable trade
The overall design of
the facility offers an open and welcoming presence to the community it serves. Forming
the north edge of the courtyard at the school’s main entrance, the classroom
wings feature a dramatic profile, with a soaring skillion roof that shelters
the second-floor learning commons. Glued laminated timber (glulam) roof beams
support the roof, with the ends of the beams extending beyond the edge of the
projecting eaves. A south-facing curtainwall clerestory runs underneath the
eaves of the skillion roof, pulling daylight into the commons area throughout
the day, while the projecting eaves to the west protect the curtainwall glass
exterior below from excessive sun in the late afternoon. The building exterior
deploys a mixture of durable, low-maintenance materials, including concrete
block, brick, and other masonry products, with metal panel at higher
The new PK-12 campus
was made possible by a $28 million grant from the State Board of Education’s
Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program, with the remainder of the
facility’s $36.2 million budget raised through a bond issue to the community.
Designed to achieve Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
certification, the building features several sustainable design strategies,
including low-use water fixtures, extensive daylighting, and natural
DENVER, CO (July 28, 2019) – After eight years of operation in inadequate facilities, Ricardo Flores Magón Academy (RFMA) has the opportunity for a fresh start. With Mayor Michael Hancock on hand, the RFMA community celebrated the groundbreaking of a new K-8 facility just north of Denver’s Regis neighborhood. MOA ARCHITECTURE is the architect for the new facility, with Fransen Pittman serving as general contractor and Vanir Management as owner’s representative.
The new building is
made possible by a $15.5 million grant from the State Board of Education’s
Building Excellent Schools Today (BEST) program. The grant was part of the 2018
BEST program, which marked the largest award given by the State in the
program’s history. The 2018 program was also notable for grants given to charter
schools for major construction projects, including RFMA’s new facility. In
previous grant cycles, awards to charter schools accounted for around 1% of
total awarded funds; the 2018 grant application marked the third attempt by
RFMA to secure funding for a new facility.
ceremony was held on the site for the new building, directly north from the
existing RFMA facilities. Attended by over 100 members of the RFMA community,
students were the stars of the ceremony, with high-achieving students taking
hold of ceremonial spades to do the honorary groundbreaking, flinging dirt high
into the air. (Some of which landed on an amused and appreciative crowd.)
Remarks were given by Mayor of Denver Michael Hancock; Dr. Terry Croy Lewis,
Executive Director of Colorado Charter School Institute; John Pittman,
President and CEO of Fransen Pittman; and Jorge Castañeda, an immigration
lawyer who serves as an RFMA board member.
Mayor Hancock framed
the construction of the new school as an opportunity to correct educational
imbalances in the region, including the neighborhoods of North Denver.
“It is my hope that
this new facility opens new horizons for the right students and welcomes them
here every day,” said Mayor Hancock. “This is about fixing inequities in our
education system. It is paramount to fix these inequities that remain in
several aspects of our lives and in our communities.”
Dr. Croy Lewis
touched on the inadequacies of the charter school’s existing facilities in her
remarks and commended the community for its tenacity in the face of these
“I would walk your
hallways, and I would go in your classrooms and I saw students and teachers
working incredibly hard in a facility that no one deserved to be in,” said Dr.
Crow Lewis. “But all of you didn’t let it stop your success.”
Founded in order to
provide high-quality education in one of the region’s lowest-income
neighborhoods, RFMA has won accolades for its educational results and community
focus. Serving a largely Mexican-American student population, the charter
school emphasizes the importance of cultural heritage, with the school’s
Mexican revolutionary namesake, Ricardo Flores Magón, held up as an example of
how someone can forge social change through their intellect. RFMA students are
known as “Magonistas” in honor of this namesake.
“We have worked
closely with parents, faculty, and community members to ensure that the design
reflects the community,” said Chas Marquez, one of MOA ARCHITECTURE’s
architects who worked on the project. “The final design acknowledges the
community heritage with a focus on performance and gathering spaces, including
the expansive commons area and learning stairs.”
The resulting facility
comprises 32,700 SF of space, including classrooms and learning environments
for kindergarten through 8th grade, gymnasium, administration areas, and a
cafeteria/commons area opening onto a “learning stair,” which will function as
the heart of the school. The facility will be under construction over the next
year, with an opening set for next fall.
MOA ARCHITECTURE is pleased to announce that Heather Lamberson, Associate AIA, Dane Steil, and Jamie Marchini have joined the firm as Architectural Designers.
MOA as a team member of the firm’s growing Healthcare Design Studio. She brings
5 years of experience on healthcare projects, including multiple projects for Kaiser
Permanente and the University of Colorado Hospital’s Anschutz Medical Campus. Heather
is an Associate AIA member and holds a Master of Architecture from the
University of Colorado Denver and a certificate in Classical Architecture.
Steil joins the
firm as an Architectural Designer whose focus has been on K-12 education
projects, including the new Chinook Trail Middle School, a collaboration
between MOA and RTA Architects. Dane obtained his Bachelor of Architecture from
the University of Oklahoma.
Jamie Marchini joins the firm from NBBJ Design’s San Francisco office, where she focused on healthcare and bioscience projects. Jamie holds a Bachelor of Design and a Master of Architecture from the University of Florida. She was the recipient of MOA’s 2017 Robert L. Outland Women and Minority Scholarship Award + Summer Internship, spending the summer of 2017 working in the firm’s Denver office and contributing to several projects.
From L to Right: Katie Vander Putten, Chris Schilling, and Paul Gibson.
MOA ARCHITECTURE is pleased to announce that Katie Vander Putten, AIA, EDAC, LEED AP BD+C has been named Principal and Director of Healthcare, and that Chris Schilling, AIA, WELL AP, LEED AP BD+C and Paul Gibson, AIA have been named Associates of the firm.
Katie Vander Putten joins the Principal team of MOA as the leader of the Healthcare Design Studio, with additional responsibilities in business planning and firm management. Having spent her entire career in healthcare design, Katie joined MOA in 2014 as a Senior Healthcare Architect and quickly rose through the ranks from Associate to Principal, leading the healthcare design efforts of the firm. Katie is a licensed Architect with LEED and EDAC certifications and is currently serving as President of the Colorado Association of Healthcare Engineers & Directors (CAHED).
Chris Schilling, a licensed Project Architect, is a Well Building and LEED Accredited Professional working primarily in the K-12 Educational market. Paul Gibson, a licensed Architect, is a Senior Project Manager and manages complex projects in the Science + Technology market.
MOA ARCHITECTURE, offers full-service architectural and planning expertise. With offices in Denver, Colorado and Casper, Wyoming, MOA is dedicated to providing excellence in design, technical execution, and project delivery, MOA’s expertise includes commercial office, K-12 education, higher ed, healthcare, industrial, retail, recreation, independent senior / assisted living, and skilled nursing care facilities.
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