Concrete masonry was the construction material of choice for Spokane Public Schools when they set out to follow the Washington Sustainable Schools Protocol (WSSP) for High Performance Schools with the design of the new $14.3 million Joel E. Ferris High School Gymnasium, Health and Fitness Complex.
The project actually exceeded WSSP requirements with its effective application of daylighting, energy efficiency, indoor environmental quality, commissioning, sustainable materials and site responsiveness. Insulating foam was injected into the cells of the structural block, low-E glass was used, steel extensions were used for shading and protection from sun, and local materials were used whenever possible for construction.
Said Greg Brown, director of capital projects for Spokane Public Schools, “many schools here were built in the 1960s when sustainability and longevity were not made priorities – masonry conveys the character we want while giving us the energy savings and low maintenance costs we are looking for over the lifetime of our buildings.”
With this 54,000 square foot facility, NAC Architecture used a variety of building materials. Glu-laminated wood framing for exposed trusses is combined with concrete block, brick masonry, and metal panels. Approximately 83,000 concrete block were used in the project, including Castle White ground-face, and standard gray block. A custom blend of three different rich red tones in 4 x 8 x 8 brick was used for veneer complements.
The site for the new building was another factor in the masonry choice, according to project architect, Doug Heyamoto, AIA. “The form and mass of CMU blended well with the site. We wanted to introduce forms and materials that were rustic, and masonry fit,” said Heyamoto. He added that masonry was selected for this project because of its structural qualities, aesthetics, design flexibility, sustainability, and durability. “When you use it for loadbearing walls,” said Heyamoto, “you get finished surfaces inside and out.”
CMU was used for exterior walls, interior corridors, piers and as the foundation wall rather than poured concrete. Loadbearing 34-foot tall CMU walls in the gymnasium were designed for a strength of 1500 psi. Randy LaPlante of LSB Engineers commented “the masonry worked quite well – it’s hard to beat CMU for gym spaces.” One of the design goals for Spokane Public Schools is to build schools that will last 50 years. “That is easy to do with masonry,” said Greg Brown. “Using masonry products in this school provides a durable, low-maintenance facility with the aesthetics our tax payers appreciate.”