Situated in the Fernley Valley, Silverland Middle School presents a contemporary reflection of both the built and natural context of northern Lyon County Nevada. The school’s setting is a pastoral island in the vast, intemperate landscape of the Great Basin. Developed through a series of locally driven design charrettes, this facility was designed as part of a new educational campus for the Lyon County School District; serving as a new landmark in an otherwise expansive context, while providing a sense of permanence and identity for this booming historic community.
Organized around a central courtyard, the programmatic layout utilizes traditional planning patterns found throughout the American Southwest. This core element functionally organizes the school, providing flexible spaces for both social and educational opportunities. Furthermore, the central courtyard provides an age-appropriate space for student interaction, as it serves the needs of a diverse population and offers opportunities for community use during after-hours engagements.
The materiality and color palette of the exterior brings to light the quiet, subtly warm, regional hues associated with the high desert and surrounding plains. These colors are contrasted against punctuations of vibrant moments of color, on the interior, helping to identify the classroom areas.
Beyond simply constructing a facility which utilizes regional materials, daylighting, solar hot water collection and wind turbine electrical generation, Silverland Middle School seeks to engage sustainability through a variety of technologies. Passive solutions help to mitigate large swings in baseline thermal activity while active systems such as a solar hot water system and a series of wind turbines provide a renewable supplement to the peak energy demands of the facility. Quantitatively, these components have reduced the energy demands faced by Lyon County School District by an estimated 33 percent, and have set a new baseline for future educational facilities.