Category: Institutional
Location: Carter Lake, IA
Size: 63,000 sq. ft.
Masonry Used:
Submitted by: BCDM Architects

Project Description

The design team established a classical theme for the building, using proportion and scale of the building elements, and by using masonry inside and outside the building to instill a sense of human scale, timelessness and permanence, as well as tying in to the existing community - creating a building that will be appreciated for the next 35 years.

An exterior of brick provides a visual connection with homes in the surrounding area, as well as linking the new school with the past - the previous building had a masonry exterior as well. However, the use of masonry on the new school is dramatically different. 4 different colors of brick are used on the exterior to create visual interest, as well as break the volume of the two-story building down to a human scale. Varying the pattern of brick over the windows to a herringbone pattern further accentuates the decorative possibilities with using masonry in school construction, as well as providing a system of order for the building elevation. A brick and precast colonnade further accentuates the human scale, as well as providing a graceful entry to the building.

At the beginning of the project the masonry contractor commented on how complex the brick work was on the project with four different brick colors, two burnish masonry colors, multiple brick layout patterns within the various brick colors and precast sills, bands, cornices and arches. To ensure there were no errors with color & pattern placement, the masonry contractor worked with BCDM to color code the exterior plan elevations to assist the masons. BCDM also provided drawings plotted to actual scale showing the Herringbone patterns.

Inside, an octagonal rotunda provides a central orientation space, and continues the theme of solidity and permanence by use of brick pillars. A bottom soldier course is used in lieu of vinyl base, further accentuating the use of brick as a decorative element in the building. CMU is also used as a design element in the building by using burnished CMU block in the corridors that radiate off the rotunda. This obviates the need to paint the walls, and forms a durable, easy to clean surface. At the base, a darker-colored burnished CMU block acts in place of using a vinyl base. Using light and dark burnished block (as well as ceramic tile) provides variation in the wall color and pattern as well as making the walls more human scale.

Carter Lake Elementary demonstrates how creatively masonry materials can be used - to create a sense of permanence, provide visual interest, and human scale - all while being cost effective. By using masonry on the exterior and the interior, Carter Lake Elementary will continue its role as a central focus of the community for years to come.

Project Participants

Owner: Council Bluffs Community Schools

  • Architect/Desinger: Gregory Galbreath, BCDM Architects
  • Structural Engineer: Brian Klare, BCDM Architects
  • General Contractor: Mark Andersen, Andersen Construction
  • Masonry Contractor: Dennis Fisher, DC Masonry, Inc.
  • Masonry Supplier: Henry Green, Sioux City Brick
  • Landscape Architect: Todd Maiellaro, HGM Associates, Inc.