The Jones Regional Education Center in Monticello, Iowa, is a collaborative venture between Kirkwood Community College and local schools and businesses to provide advanced career training and meet the educational needs of the community. The 32,000-square-foot building includes classrooms, career and technology labs for academic programs, offices, and access to the Iowa Communication Network for distance learning.
A Community Learning Hub
The new center functions as a learning hub for the community, complementing the surrounding school districts. A decline in enrollment and funding limited the kinds of classes local schools could provide. This proved problematic for students wanting to take higher level or specialized classes — many for college credit — that usually can only be offered at larger schools. This was the impetus to form a partnership between Kirkwood and the local schools, leading to the genesis of this new and unusual facility.
Now open, 150-200 students from surrounding high schools take advanced level classes each day at the Jones Regional Education Center. For-credit courses are offered from both Kirkwood and Mount Mercy University. Some courses are led by teachers from local schools. The center also offers college credit to traditional and non-traditional students, and several continuing education programs.
Hands-On Learning Environment
Organized around a central corridor, the education center was designed with efficiency and flexibility in mind to accommodate a wide array of course offerings. Many spaces are specialized for particular fields, but remain flexible enough to change with the needs of future students.
Versatile career and technology labs for advanced manufacturing, building trades, welding, automotive technology, and health care provide a dynamic, hands-on learning environment for students.
The building trades lab includes a small classroom with computers where instructors can introduce a project, students can work out a solution collaboratively, proceed to draft or create necessary files, and then go directly into the shop to construct their design.
The automotive technology lab involves a four-bay shop, complete with vehicle lifts and equipment, as well as its own small classroom. In the health education room, three patient beds and medical devices allow students to learn through realistic, hands-on simulations.
Materials and Design
The exterior finish was designed to give the building a sleek, contemporary appearance. Local Anamosa limestone is used predominantly on the façade, accented by portions clad with an aluminum panel rain screen.
Anchoring the front corner of the building is a glass-enclosed communal lounge and study space that articulates the main entrance and gives the building a sense of vibrancy as it is approached.