Lexington-Richland School District 5, CATS
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Center for Advanced Technical Studies, Lexington-Richland School District 5

Awarded: Association for Learning Environments (A4LE, formerly CEFPI), Excellence in Design, Honor Award, 2014

As the first building in the District dedicated exclusively to developing technical career skills, the new 80,000 SF occupational training center was designed to emulate the workforce of demanding new industries in South Carolina, such as Aerospace Engineering, Biotechnology, Media Technology, and Veterinary Science. Traditional programs such as Culinary Arts, Welding, Health Science, and Automobile Services are also addressed with more representative “real world” teaching environments.

As part of the design process, our project team interviewed program representatives and benchmarked similar successful facilities. Early in the process the District expressed a desire for the Center to have a unique visual identity that reflects the building’s progressive curriculum. A contemporary exterior façade featuring brick veneer, expansive glazing, metal panel wall cladding, and exposed structural steel sets the tone for a high-tech industrial learning environment. Training labs feature large operable garage doors and natural clerestory window glazing to ensure an interior filled with natural daylight.

One project goal was integrating the business community into the mission of the technical center. A multi-purpose room, accessible after hours and on weekends, allows community access for special events showcasing student projects, the application of culinary art skills, and video / media art programs. Retractable theater seating allows flexibility of this space, and events can be lecture-style or open exhibitions. Local businesses use the facility to host continuing education or certification classes for their own workforce.