The Linn-Mar Community School District was in need of new, updated facilities to support its growing student population. The District, operating on a tight timeline, viewed the OPN-designed Prairie Ridge Elementary School, fell for the experiential-focused design, and decided to use the building as a prototype for two new 96,000-square-foot elementary schools. The prototype was tweaked to better fit the District’s needs and budget, and the pre-K–5 buildings, Linn Grove and Echo Hill, were simultaneously constructed on new sites. The schools are designed with individual classroom pods grouped around a central, common instructional learning center. For both, a large instructional media center provides an exciting learning environment for students and is visually connected to an exterior courtyard. The courtyard offers learning opportunities by incorporating natural features of the Iowa landscape.
Each school also features a large multi-purpose room, complete with a commercial-grade food service kitchen and a stage area for student performances. A gymnasium provides space for athletic programs and student performances on a large stage. The administrative suite supported the principal, nurse and guidance offices for both buildings independently.
A few years after the opening of the first two elementary schools, OPN was again employed by the District to design a third building to replace the outdated Novak Elementary School. The new Novak Elementary was a prototype of Echo Hill and Linn Grove. Once the new building and relocation were complete, the old building was repurposed to house administration offices.
All three new facilities are heated and cooled by a mechanical system supported by an adjacent geothermal well field, reducing the overall operations of the buildings.