A special mission school in the Matanuska Susitna Borough School District, the Mat-Su Day School provides a transitional educational environment where students have the opportunity to practice those academic, social, behavioral, and employability skills necessary for success in their home, school, and community. The 120-student, grades 1-12 school is part of a continuum of placements available in the District; students may attend full or part time, and may be at the school for short periods or for an entire school year.
Working in association with Wolf Architecture of Palmer, Alaska, our team designed the new 21,500-square-foot building to meet the growing needs of the existing program, which serves the second largest school district in the state. Because providing a safe and secure environment for the students was a crucial aspect of the design, the layout defines distinct separate zones for younger and older students, provides good site lines and visibility, and locates support areas in close proximity to student areas.
It was important that the building help these students feel valued, so the design projects a sense of openness to the community and creates a welcoming, non-institutional environment for the students. Large windows promote daylighting and warm materials and colors are used both inside and throughout the exterior of the school. An Honors classroom area is located at the front of the school that acts as a reward for students who have met their curriculum goals. The space features a distinctive, curved exterior wall that is visible when approaching the school, serving as a daily incentive for students to maintain their commitment to academic achievement. The administration area and library echo the curved-wall theme and boast large art glass windows to promote a feeling of connectivity between these areas and the rest of the school.