Jimmy Carter Middle School is located in an industrial and residential neighborhood on Albuquerque’s west side. With panoramic views of the Sandia and Manzano Mountains to the east, the school is designed to capitalize on these.
The school campus is divided into five separate buildings organized along a central Commons that serves as the main circulation and gathering space. Progressively widening from the main entry onward, the Commons can be used for an informal classroom space, sports event half-time break-out space, or reception area for a school performance. Situated on a sloping site, the Commons helps integrate the buildings with the site by incorporating a variety of level changes.
The design of the school was influenced by the materials and colors of traditional New Mexico architecture but blended with industrial forms and materials of a more contemporary time. Stone-like masonry walls are used to identify key elements such as the entry tower. They are also used to create a visual and sound buffer from the existing industrial areas to the south. Deep-set openings in these south facing facades allow for passive solar control.
Due to the west side location with its prevailing westerly winds and a need for student gathering areas, a large commons space was created to address inclement weather conditions and improved student interaction and monitoring by staff. The large commons space is normally the circulation corridor. It was programmatically enlarged to address the need for the gathering space as well as egress requirements.