Designed as nine separate buildings on four acres of land, the Case Middle School is comprised of classrooms for the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades. Each grade level teaching team with four classrooms occupies a single floor; this unique linkage of curriculum and physical space fosters an integration of studies and a sense of belonging among students and staff.
The architectural design of the School as a sequence of smaller, multiple buildings with a village-like character within the steeply-sloped site significantly reduces the impact of the insertion of the Middle School complex into the existing campus. This carefully calibrated fragmentation of built form respects the dominance of Castle Hall, a symbol of Punahou School’s long history, and creates a fresh, youthful environment in which natural daylight penetrates all spaces and corridor windows allow views through the entire building. The architectural positioning of the open-air team meeting or “break-out” spaces and the terraces between buildings creates sudden, dramatic views of the city and sea as an indelible connection between the school and community.
Among other facilities the complex includes “creative learning centers” which enhance learning in a hands-on environment for the seventh and eighth grades. A multi-use assembly and performance space, the Twigg-Smith Gathering Place, accommodates 400 people, functioning both as an assembly hall for the Middle School but also as a venue for the rest of the School and the community at large. Covered parking also integrates accommodation for 200 cars into the complex.
The buildings are designed to be environmentally, socially, and culturally sustainable. As a result the Middle School is the first major certified “green” project in Hawai‘i, attaining the LEED Gold Certification. Among the many complex benefits achieved by this design approach are the preservation of existing landscaping, the fostering of an environmental consciousness among students, and the use of:
• recycled materials for construction such as concrete, steel, flooring, furniture, toilet partitions, countertops, lockers and wood from certified sustainable sources;
• fully operable windows for natural ventilation, “low‑E” glass, and photovoltaic panels producing electrical power;
• abundant natural light;
• a digital light dimming system integrating photo and occupancy sensors reducing energy consumption;
• thermal energy storage ice plant technology creating ice at night for use in cooling the building during the day; and
• high-efficiency mechanical equipment including waterless urinals and sensor-operated electronic faucets and water closets.