The Missouri Innovation Campus is home to the country’s most accelerated K-16 degree program—a collaboration among the Lee’s Summit School District, Metropolitan Community College, and the University of Central Missouri. By engaging business partners and community organizations, the program shortens the time to degree completion, significantly reduces college debt, and provides job-ready skills highly sought by employers. It also instills entrepreneurial mindsets to help students engage in the Gig Economy. The building design helps instill core competencies to the students that are critical to life after graduation by taking design cues from the workplace to transform conventions about learning environments and pedagogies.
The context of the MIC is a mixture of industrial and retail strip development. The site was scraped flat prior to the project’s origins. This “open slate” was used to leverage the complex site requirements to support distinct traffic patterns for high school drivers, college drivers, parents, buses, visitors, and staff. The site also affords future expansion to the northwest. What limited natural setting did remain, a railroad right-of-way and tree line, is leveraged by the zoning of offices and bookstore/ café looking out toward the trees. Overhead, daylight graces the interiors of all the departments via two-story atriums.
Because of the unique nature of the MIC program, the owner team asked that the new facility not look like a school, nor an office building. They wanted it to be symbolic of the advanced technological programs happening within, and they wanted it to be timeless. There is a lack of context in this suburban industrial district, which supports the development of a facility driven by “inside-out” functionality. The folded aluminum panels change character with the varying reflectance of light. Interior woodwork is ash—the same as baseball bats—highly durable yet warm. Stretched metal lath railings, sealed concrete floors, and more contribute to an affordable environment that promotes messy experimentation among students.
Gould Evans; also DLR Group; SK Design; Henderson Engineers; McCown Gordon Construction