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Cañon City Middle School Renovation & Addition

Cañon City, Colorado

"It is a very rare thing in education to do what we have done here in the past two years. Thank you again to everyone who has played a part in the (design and) construction of this building. This is truly a gift to the students of Cañon City and the community that will stand for many years to come.”

George S. Welsh, Former Superintendent of Schools, Cañon City Schools


Connecting through experience of place.

Originally constructed in 1925 to serve as the high school, Cañon City Middle School had undergone numerous additions and renovations over its +90 year history. An extensive analysis of the site and the condition and quality of the current facility was conducted by the District, especially as it related to its instructional environment. With an upcoming bond campaign, Cañon City Schools began the planning process with RTA and applied for a second BEST Grant based on the retention of elements of the historic high school.


Ever curious. Ever learning. Ever improving.

In a fully collaborative design effort, RTA led seven meetings with the 17-member Design Advisory Group (DAG) where staff, teachers, and District personnel had opportunities to evaluate the three site options and classroom concepts. The design team also led tours of eight other Colorado schools.

The central site feature of the new middle school is the courtyard which was created between the existing gymnasium, the existing 1925 building, and the new addition along 12th Street. It has direct access from the Student Commons and the Library to act as a central hub of the design and a safe, protected place for students to enjoy the outdoors.


Purposeful, engaging solutions.

21st Century classrooms and the library feature flexible collaboration spaces for break-out sessions and small groups. Science classrooms for 6th and 7th grades connect via a sliding door into their respective Maker Space, and the Synergy Lab and Tech Lab can also connect through a sliding glass door for flexibility and visibility.

The Commons acts as a commons/cafeteria as well as an auditorium. It is the “heart” of the school and has a direct connection to the courtyard so that both spaces can be used during good weather.

The new building addition was constructed while the existing building was occupied and required multi-phased demolition and construction.

Project Details

  • Square footage: 70,378 sf
    • 44,300 sf renovation
    • 26,078 sf addition
  • Project cost: $29.35M 

Design Details

  • BEST Grant assistance
  • Multi-phase addition and renovation
  • Occupied during construction
  • LEED Silver certified
  • Maker spaces
  • Outdoor learning spaces and courtyard
  • Reconfigured bus and parent drop-offs
  • 21st Century classrooms with flexible furnishings
  • Collaboration spaces for break-out sessions and small group learning
  • Retention of historic elements of the original 1925 building
  • A new Community Health Center focused on serving neighborhood families, parents, students and District staff
  • Photography by David Lauer Photography


  • 2022 Best Education Project, presented by the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) Rocky Mountain Chapter
  • 2022 ACE Award, Contribution to the Community, presented by the Associated General Contractors (AGC) Colorado