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May 17, 2013
Kraus-Anderson to build innovative K-8 special education school in Blaine, Minn. for Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School District
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (May 2013) – Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest commercial general contractors and construction managers, has been selected to build a new school for Northeast Metro 916 Intermediate School District that will be the first of its kind to serve kindergarteners through eighth graders with special education needs.
The 70,000-square-foot education center, located in Blaine, Minn., will expand the district’s capacity to serve a growing need for education services from partner school districts. Northeast Metro 916 serves 10 member school districts providing educational services, special education and administrative services to meet the specific needs of students. Construction will begin on July 1, 2013 and is expected to be complete in July of 2014.
A groundbreaking ceremony will be held at the school’s site (3764 95th Ave. NE, Blaine) at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, May 21.
Special Education programs at Northeast Metro 916 are designed for students who are affected by neurobiological and behavioral disorders including autism. The number of Special Education students referred to the school district, particularly at the elementary and middle school levels, has grown significantly, necessitating a larger school that will accommodate more than 150 students, along with faculty, and staff. The school’s 23 classrooms will replace a patchwork of owned and leased spaces throughout the school district’s northeast metropolitan suburbs.
Midwest-based BWBR, whose architectural specialties include behavioral health, education and secure environments, designed the school as a national prototype for students with special health needs.
“The opportunity we have to create an environment that engages and nurtures students in an educational setting is unparalleled,” said Steve Erickson, AIA, project manager for BWBR. “Combining the best elements that promote healing, learning and safety will enhance how the students live day-to-day, as well as how teachers will be able to connect with their students.”
The design departs from traditional school floor plans by creating pods of learning communities, developing more open and warm spaces that assist faculty and support the students as they learn life skills of self-regulation, coping, communication, self-efficacy and socialization. The open designs empower students to flow through the space, while providing staff the ability to maintain sight and control.
The indoor environment avoids the institutional feel by incorporating connections to nature, which research shows as having a positive effect on student behavior. Design elements bring nature indoors to provide a calming atmosphere, and create a controlled outdoor space for students in which to learn, play and relax – while providing additional opportunities to teach life skills.
Borrowing from design solutions incorporated in mental health treatment centers, the school will also feature sensory rooms for students who can benefit from such therapies, and exercise areas for motor skill development and student engagement.
The new facility in Blaine is the third project in a recent partnership between Kraus-Anderson and BWBR, which brings innovative solutions to health and education settings. Projects include Regions Hospital Inpatient Mental Health Center in Saint Paul, Minn.; and Early Childhood Family Center in Stillwater, Minn.
“This exceptional building for District 916 is a national model and an example of a new trend in education construction,” said John Huenink, Kraus-Anderson vice president and director of the company’s education group. “We are proud to partner with BWBR on behalf of Northeast Metro 916 to meet the growing demand to support special needs children in our community.”