WMEP InterDistrict Downtown School

01 07
Minneapolis Public Schools
Cunningham Group
General Contractor
Minneapolis, Minnesota
89,000 sq. ft.

Downtown Minneapolis is more than just a business district. It is also home to the WMEP Inter-District Downtown School and 600 K-12 students. This is no ordinary school for a number of reasons. The school serves seven Minnesota school districts rather than the typical one district. In addition, the school exterior is a combination of brick, glass, precast, curtainwall, zinc and a solar wall — the first in Minneapolis. The interior is just as diverse, with a rainbow of colors — red, green, blue, yellow and purple — for the wall colors.

The 86,150 sq. ft. school is built on top of a parking ramp. It consists of four levels of student common areas/classrooms and a fifth level mechanical penthouse. Connecting the floors are three stairwells and two elevators. Throughout the building, there are stand-alone 2x6/plywood rooms intermingled with metal stud/sheetrock rooms. The “guts” of the building — concrete, electrical cable trays, ductwork and studs — have been left exposed for teaching purposes. The diverse use of layout and materials contributes to the flexibility of the school.