Daylighting by Duo-Gard Opens a New Frontier for School Gym

Middle School students at Frontier School of Innovation in Kansas City, Missouri have closed out a landmark year, thanks to a new gym opened in August 2017. The gym affords students in grades 4 – 8 their first opportunity to play sports such as basketball and volleyball in a space designed for them. A performance stage adds another exciting element.

Able to accommodate 500 people, the gym is also a community asset, said Mark Barber, FSI’s principal. “The community has taken to it well for graduations, awards ceremonies and assemblies. One of our first events drew 400 in attendance, our largest gathering.”

Designed by BNIM Architects in Kansas City, the 9,422-square-foot structure is flooded with natural light, including a translucent daylighting system engineered by Duo-Gard Industries.

The daylighting system from Duo-Gard is integrated into the top 2/3 of the building and contributes savings as well as aesthetics. Multiwall polycarbonate panels in 40mm tongue-and-groove are included on all four sides. With 4,900 square feet in 13 elevations, ranging from 6’8”x21’ to 80’x20’, the glazing provides high diffused light with minimum glare and heat gain.

“In this gym, we don’t need artificial light during the day,” said designer Dan Johnson, a member of BNIM’s project team. “The polycarbonate system meets the daylighting needs with diffused light, and the material is cost effective with a long life span.” And he added that daylight is proven to provide a healthier environment. With daylighting on all four sides, the gym provides occupants with a balanced approach to this important element. 

As for the aesthetics, the glazing has an opal tint with framing in black anodized aluminum. ”Designing with a simple white box and a minimum of contrast, we wanted to complement the current building,” said specification and construction administrator Barbara Cugno IIDA, AIA, LEED AP. The gym connects to the school on the north side through a covered hallway.

Using a pre-engineered metal building, the architects banded the bottom 10 feet with Hardie board siding and clad the upper portion with corrugated metal panels which integrate the translucent glazing sections.

The BNIM project team – which also included design principal Craig Scranton AIA, LEED AP and designer Josh Harrold AIA – used a set-back strategy for the south elevation, which included an 80’x20’ translucent section.

“The setback protects the glazing and the interior of the building from heating up during the summer. It ideally helps reduce energy costs while still offering natural diffused daylight into the building,” Cugno said. “In the winter, the sun’s angle is lower, allowing heat to enter the building and help reduce heating costs.”

At a cost of $2,640,366, Frontier Middle School’s new gym opened in August 2017.  “Everybody loved it,” said Cugno. “The Duo-Gard system provided a great value in light and aesthetics.” Dan Johnson added that the clients had a lot to say about the quality of light: “There were a lot of happy clients and end users.”

Photo Credit: BNIM Architects