Community was the primary value for the Mankato Area Public School (MAPS) District when they started making plans for an additional Middle School. Responding to a projected increase in student enrollment, the District partnered with ISG to design a new school for approximately 1,100 students in sixth through eighth grade.

In order to meet the District’s desire for community based learning, the building was constructed with an open floor plan. Each grade level received its own pod to allow for cross-curriculum teaching, and to nurture a feeling of belonging among students. This was reinforced with the inclusion of a large commons area featuring a multi-story atrium.

The cafeteria’s single-point entry system increased student safety and offered a station for serving healthy foods. Students have plenty of space for staying active in the three station gymnasium, complete with a running track and fields fit for softball, soccer, and football. There are also recreational facilities that include tennis courts and baseball fields. These spaces were created with the additional purpose of hosting after-school activities and larger community events.

The Middle School addressed the City’s sustainability values as well, and was designed to attain LEED certification. This emphasis on environmental-friendly plans offered the additional benefit of maximizing operational cost efficiency by reducing light pollution and providing water efficient landscaping. Organized planning during the design phase resulted in an additional 150-student capacity increase within the District’s original budget.

These innovative designs and purposeful solutions helped MAPS District build a new school for a growing City. Developed with the community’s multi-faceted needs in mind, Prairie Winds Middle School provides a space the entire City can take pride in sharing with District members and visitors alike.

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