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Ignacio Middle SchoolIgnacio, Colorado

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Ignacio Middle School was the first phase of a comprehensive district-wide master plan completed by RTA in 2011. The new middle school, which welcomed students in August of 2013, aspires to renew community pride in the schools, while also reflecting the tri-cultural heritage (Southern Ute, Hispanic, and Anglo) of the region and community.

Children of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe account for approximately 40% of Ignacio’s student population. Through meetings with the District, the Tribal Board, and the community, key program areas were identified as opportunities to strengthen the connection between the school and the community. These program areas include: multiple community access points to the school, exterior gathering areas at the entry of the building and commons, and space on school property for the local agricultural program, as well as design sensibilities that respond to the town’s tri-cultural heritage.

Our design team facilitated a Design Advisory Group of students, teachers, parents, and community members to identify the goals and vision for the design. These goals included ample opportunities for views and interaction with the outdoors, optimization of natural daylight, sustainable passive heating and cooling strategies, and the creation of a safe and secure environment for students.

The middle school design includes flexible educational and social spaces, state-of-the-art athletic fields, and an area for the district agricultural program. The building program was reorganized to create adaptive and flexible learning environments for the future. A centrally located outdoor learning space can accommodate small groups or entire classes. The tall, open commons and library space utilize exposed wood structure, beetle-kill pine finishes, and glass overhead doors to open the space to an outdoor student plaza for community events.

The school employs passive solar design strategies, including large expanses of south facing glazing, thermal mass, and rooftop solar chimneys. Intentionally-designed daylighting within the school connects students to the exterior environment. Large expanses of windows, tubular daylight devices, and clerestory windows in the corridors bring ample natural light into the school for a better learning experience. Also, the school’s engaging learning environment is enhanced further by having exposed mechanical systems and accessible 21st century technology.


  • 2016 Merit Award, International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Rocky Mountain Chapter
  • 2014 Merit Award for Built Architecture, AIA Colorado Chapter
  • 2014 Honor Award for Built Architecture, AIA Colorado South Chapter
  • 2013 Peak Merit Award, for New Construction, CEFPI Rocky Mountain Chapter