Apex Friendship Middle School in Apex, North Carolina, opened in the fall of 2018. Not only is it large enough to hold more than 1,400 students, it will serve as a model for future schools in the Wake County Public School system. With this knowledge, architects at Perkins + Will had to decide which materials to use for the school that could be replicated easily on subsequent buildings.
The firm’s architects were drawn to insulated metal panels for this reason and equipped the school with nearly 10,000 square feet of material from Kingspan. Two versions of Kingspan’s BENCHMARK Designwall Architectural Wall Panels were used – Designwall 2000, which is a smooth version, and Designwall R Series, which is a ribbed version. The Designwall panels allow for flexibility in architectural design and their special joint design provides maximum thermal efficiency by creating a double barrier against air and water penetration.
Apex Friendship Middle School is a three-story building covering 234,000 square feet. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art media center, collaborative spaces and flexible locations close to classrooms where teachers and students can have lessons. Principal Shejuanna Rogers believes these resources will help 21st century students learn and cater to their needs.
In the Apex Friendship Middle School design, there was a need to highlight the large outdoor common areas created for students to gather – this was another benefit of insulated metal panels.
“With the courtyard being the hub of the school, we wanted a material that could enliven the space,” said Steven Brown, senior project manager at Perkins + Will. “Insulated metal panels allowed us different profile and color options while seamlessly incorporating storefront windows to maximize daylight.”
The collaborative learning environments are unique at Apex Friendship Middle School as the administration has decided that one-size-fits-all schools no longer work. By catering to students and to staff, learning can be improved.
“The classroom setting is often referred to as a ‘third teacher’,” said Deputy Superintendent Cathy Moore on the district’s website. “In addition to the classroom teacher and resources in the room, the physical space that you’re in can support teaching and learning in many positive ways.”
The motto of Apex Friendship Middle School is “uncovering brilliance by growing hearts and minds”. With a thoughtful design and carefully created learning environments, these middle school students can live this motto each day.