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The Metal Construction Association (MCA) awarded Medicine Crow Middle School in Billings, its 2017 Chairman’s Award in the education - primary and secondary schools category.

The Medicine Crow Middle School building consists of 121,000 square feet of new construction for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. Currently the school houses 700 students and can grow to a capacity of 900.
The school requires educational spaces to serve dual purposes; to accommodate 21st century learning during school hours and to function as public facilities after hours. As the first new school in the Billings Public Schools since 1989, the design needed to create a variety of environments to enhance the curriculum of the district. Classrooms open into shared learning spaces and STEM labs are connected to fabrication and technology spaces. Athletics, music, and performance spaces are zoned to allow for community use without disrupting focus in the science/creative spaces and general classrooms.
Iconic to the Billings community are the nearby Rimrocks, prehistoric sandstone banks created by the Yellowstone River. It was important to incorporate the surrounding environment into the design to create a bold building rising from the river valley. The exterior skin of copper penny and dark bronze metal panels reflect the golden glow of the sun and surrounding Rimrocks. The metal panels mimic the striation patterns in the sandstone engraved through years of erosion.
It was also important to create a space for the Billings community that would be resilient and provide a minimum lifespan of 50 years. The metal wall panels created a durable and aesthetically interesting solution for Medicine Crow Middle School while meeting sustainability and energy goals for the exterior envelope. The building is articulated into simple rectilinear forms that define classrooms and community use spaces. The linear metal panels became an organizing element that intersect a masonry spine and reach out into the landscape, defining the procession to the entry of the building.
“I think that this project was thought through very holistically. When you see one part of it, you understand that it’s a part of a whole, and I very much appreciated that about this project. The simplicity gives it some gravitas,” said MCA judge Brent Schipper, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, ASK Studio, Des Moines, Iowa
The award was announced at a special ceremony during the MCA Winter Meeting, held in San Diego, California from January 22-24, 2018. The annual 3-day event fosters industry collaboration, networking and growth in the metal construction industry.
The Chairman’s Awards are given to the year’s most exceptional building projects involving MCA member companies based on overall appearance, significance of metal in the project, innovative use of metal, and the role of metal in achieving project objectives
Recipients for these awards are selected each year from projects submitted by MCA members to Metal Architecture Magazine’s annual Design Awards Program. The honorees were chosen by a panel of professional architects, which included Mark Dewalt, AIA, Principal, Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Chicago, Illinois; Mark Horton, FAIA, Principal, Mark Horton/Architecture, San Francisco, California; and Brent Schipper, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, ASK Studio, Des Moines, Iowa.
The 2017 MCA Chairman’s Awards were given in eight categories: overall excellence; residential; metal roofing; education, primary and secondary schools; education, colleges and universities; institutional; municipal; and commercial/industrial.
Project Recognition
Building Owner: Billings Public Schools
MCA Member Manufacturer: Metal Sales Manufacturing Corporation
MCA Member Coating Manufacturer: Valspar
Architect: Integrus Architecture and A&E Architects
Contractor: Dick Anderson Construction
Metal Installer: Vannoy Metal Works