Entry number: B09004
Project Name: Career & Technical Academy
Building Type: Career & Technical Educational Academy
Completion Date: Summer 2009
Building Location: 2531 Vegas Drive, Las Vegas, NV
Type of Construction: Tilt-up Construction
Materials Used: Concrete, steel & metal cladding
Building Area: 220,000 sf
Architecture Firm: Pugsley. Simpson. Coulter. Architects
Architect of Record: Wade Simpson, AIA, LEED AP
Client/Owner/Developer: Clark County School District
Landscape Architect: Hill Clark & Associates
Interior Designer: Pugsley. Simpson. Coulter. Architects
Structural Engineer: Mendenhall Smith, Incorporated
Electrical Engineer: T.J.K. Consulting Engineers
Mechanical Engineer: Petty & Associates
Civil Engineer: Civil Works
General Contractor: McCarthy Building Companies
Photographer: Janae Shields Photography
Food Service Consultant: Landmark Design, Inc.
Geothermal Consultant: Sound Geothermal Corp.
Statement of Design Approach:
With the rapidly increasing population of the area in the recent years, the need arose
for additional facilities of secondary education. Following a series of workshops with the
Clark County School District, it was determined that this should be accomplished in the
form of new career and technical academies. Once a list of several vocations had been
compiled, a “catalog/parts list” of environmentally responsive academic buildings was
created. With this list, a new campus could be designed whenever the need presented
itself. Buildings could be selected based on the specialization desired at that location.
Vocations chosen would reflect industry times, and could be assembled in any number
of different groupings. The individual buildings would allow the new campus to respond
impeccably to any given site—creating versatility within the design, and contextualizing
the buildings without heavily altering the surrounding environment. The layout of individual
sites is conducive to a great sense of community among the students; and because
the design treats the academic atmosphere similar to that of higher education, a
greater sense of excitement and professionalism is achieved. Each academy focuses
on “project based” learning, which means students spend the majority of the day in
their related academy. The separate Gymnasium and Commons buildings provide
communal gathering space aside from the outdoor public spaces. Each building
elevation is designed to be finished with what is deemed an “Urban Camouflage” paint
scheme, which allows each grouping of buildings to be painted with contextual colors.
The design of each academy was focused on the “heart” of the
academic discipline—commonly incarnated in the form of large
lab spaces, centrally located within each building. The remaining
design radiated from its core, with the exterior of the building being
a product of functionality. Within each academy, an interior corridor
is the forum for gathering, sharing, and encouraging communication.
From the corridor, views into the classrooms and lab spaces make
learning visible; constantly defining and reinforcing the values and
ultimate goals within each discipline. “Portals” are applied in these
locations on both the interior and exterior, and are designed to act
as a “billboard” for each individual academy. A building designation
is given to each academy in the form of a specifi c color, which
is then applied to the inside of both the portals and shade boxes.
Each academic building has several multipurpose classrooms
to help augment a student’s education with courses in Math,
English, History and Science. Centralized work areas for teachers
afford them the opportunity to collaborate on curriculum
integration in addition to providing a sense of community.
Currently, two campuses have been completed with a third under
construction. Each of the three sites responds uniquely to its surroundings.
Southwest Career and Technical Academy, situated on a relatively
flat site in a developing area of the valley interacts with its expansive
site by forming a central courtyard and gathering space surrounded
by eight academic buildings. Raised walkways allow people to
move easily within the second level of the four-two story buildings.
Veterans Tribute Career and Technical Academy sits in a much
denser area of Las Vegas, and has a more restricted site. This, in
combination with programmatic requirements necessitated the
primary use of two story buildings. The three-two story and two-one
story buildings fit tightly together, forming intimate, yet unique and
interesting public spaces in the interstice between each academy.
West Career and Technical Academy is currently under construction
on a site located on the edge of the valley. Two two story buildings
and six one story buildings were selected, and form a similar
condition to that of the Southwest Career and Technical Academy.
Because of the versatility of academies, the West CTA is able to
effectively respond to the greatly sloping nature of its site, while
still retaining much of the character of the original environment.
While sustainability in itself is integral to the design process, it is most important
to create unique and enjoyable spatial conditions. In the design of the Career
and Technical Academy, the design team was considerate in incorporating
both of these ideas. Although the projects never officially went for LEED
certification, all of the associated ideals were followed as a matter of good
practice. Throughout the initial design and planning stages, numerous daylight
and energy studies were conducted. In conjunction with this, specific strategies
were employed to create very economical, practical and functional spaces.
All buildings are designed for an orientation along an East/West axis to reduce
heat loads from intense and constant sunlight. Windows along the North side
of each building are larger to allow classrooms and lab spaces to be flooded
with indirect natural sunlight. The fenestration along the South elevation of
each building, although similar in layout to those on the North, is narrower in
order to control the direct light penetrating the academic spaces. To further
this control, shade boxes are applied along the South elevation and have two
primary functions. The top of the shade box helps block direct sunlight, thus
reducing glare within the work spaces. The lower portion of the shade boxes acts
as a light shelf—reflecting natural light deep into the classrooms. The daylight
provided into these classrooms and lab spaces is augmented with the use of
dynamic skylights, which allow natural light to penetrate deep into the rooms.
To heat and cool each building, a ground source heat exchange system was
used. Individually controlled heat pumps were designed for each room per
building. With a central closed loop system, which is fed from the well field, a
building has the ability to add or remove energy from the system and in turn,
transfer it to the next if needed. This balancing of buildings provides versatility and
greater control of the interior climate. West Career and Technical Academy,
when completed, will also include a Solar Yard including photovoltaic panels.
The Career and Technical Academy exemplifies the “10 Principles for Livable
Communities,” by demonstrating several of the ideals set fourth by the
AIA Communities by Design. In the compilation of different and individual
vocational academies, choices can be made for a multiplicity of site
configurations, based on the current needs of the district. Individual academic
buildings may be chosen to supplement or replace existing educational
facilities. Once situated on a site, each campus now provides unique and
“vibrant public spaces,” to generate a great sense of community and an
excitement to learn. These public spaces both utilize and enhance the existing
landscape at each site—attempting to have very minor negative impact on
the surrounding environment. The “Urban Camouflage” paint scheme of the
academic campus allows the buildings to react better to its surroundings, while
creating a neighborhood identity, and a citywide educational language.