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Better Know an L|F Project: Cranbrook Kingswood Girls’ Middle School

Posted by on 6/5/13 at 12:39pm

Cranbrook’s campus, located in Bloomfield Hills just north of Detroit, is known for its architecture.  With its original buildings by Eliel Saarinen, the campus has seen more recent additions by such noted architects as Steven Holl, Rafael Moneo, and Todd Williams and Billie Tsien.  When they needed a new middle school, they called Lake|Flato.



Answers by: Brantley Hightower

Client:  Cranbrook Schools
Project Team:  Ted Flato, Greg Papay, Brantley Hightower, Vicki Yuan, Meredith Contello
Year Completed: 2011
LF Scope:  SD, DD
Associate Architect: Ghafari & Associates

Award:  AIA Committee of Architecture for Education, 2013

Program:  47,000 square foot all-girl middle school with classrooms, library, gymnasium, and dining hall as well as multi-purpose commons spaces for each grade level.

The Crux:  Create a nurturing learning environment that contained echoes of the existing buildings at Cranbrook while also acting as a transition between the site’s trees to the north and meadow to the south.





Prized Consultant:  Our most important collaborator was in fact not a consultant (they all proved rather problematic) but the owner’s project manager. Trained as an architect and intimately knowledgeable of the history of building on the campus, Craig Hoernschemeyer was a great advocate for the integrity of our design after we handed over leadership of the project.

Favorite Detail:  Rather than a micro detail of the connection between two materials, the macro detail we are most pleased with is the way the building addresses the athletic field to its south turned out really well.

Interesting Material:  “Turquoise” #333 Velour Texture Castaic Brick, seen throughout the building.

If I Could Change ONE Thing:  All buildings on Cranbrook’s campus mature over time.  Whether it be through the growth of the landscape, the installation of art or the slow accumulation of patina on the copper, the Girls’ Middle School will only become more a part of the campus in time.  We wish it could have felt as good when it opened as it will ten years from now.