The Bio-Rhythmic Charter School
Building Type / Education
Location / Muncie, Indiana
Square Footage / 35,000 sq. ft.
Design Tools / Rhino /AutoCAD / Vray /Adobe Photoshop / Adobe Illustrator / Adobe InDesign / Physical Models
* ACSA Steel Design Competition Honorable Mention Award
The Bio Rhythmic School is located in Muncie, Indiana, in the Whiteley Neighborhood. The neighborhood is located on the northwest side of Muncie’s historic McCullough Park, just north of the White River. The neighborhood began in the 1890s with the attraction of industrialists to the area because of the gas boom. Some of the historic homes located within and around the neighborhood were actually homes of the early Ball Brothers, Ball State University’s founding fathers. Despite the industrial success of the early 1900s, much of Delaware County saw economic decline around the Great Depression and wartimes of the 1940s. Whiteley became home to mostly working-class families of low socio-economic level. In the 1960s, the boundaries of the current neighborhood were set and the demographics of working class families are consistent today.
Immediately surrounding the site are various means of traffic; pedestrian traffic via the Cardinal Greenway, vehicular traffic from the surrounding neighborhood and park, and an active railway directly to the east. Essentially, the site is sandwiched between a residential neighborhood and a public park. With these immediate forms of access to the site, the Bio Rhythmic Charter School provides a program focused not only on academics, but also community involvement and activity. There are two wings, one for the community and one for the school, in order to engage everyone in the educational process as well as technological opportunities. By integrating steel as a major design element, a new and innovative charter school immediately surfaces. The clean-cut aesthetic value of steel along with the industrial history of the site both blend together to produce a heightened optimism within the community. Creating a sense of community and providing public access to spaces such as the library, computer labs, medical offices, music and art education, as well as gymnasium, the school will become a revitalization source in the community.
The lifecycle of the building and its immediate site surroundings are the main focus of the design of the Bio-Rhythmic Charter School. Steel beam spans were pushed to the maximum limits to eliminate interior column usage. This concept allows for future programmatic changes within the building, whether it is temporary internal exhibits needed or even temporary classrooms, steel allows those adjustments to be made with ease.
In correlation with the concept of lifecycle, design was taken beyond the walls of the classroom. Adjacent to the school are large interactive gardens. These gardens are planted with crops that are usable by community members, and most importantly, the student and faculty. With the growth of these gardens over long periods of time, community members are engaged in hands-on learning experiences while controlling the rhythmic cycle of the building and site at the same time. Crops are harvested and taken to the Center for Science for all natural cleaning and processing before being used within the cafeteria, at seasonal farmers’ markets, and throughout the surrounding community.