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School of Environmental Studies ("Zoo School")
Apple Valley, MN
HGA Educational Design Group

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10th  - 12th grades
440 Students
68,000 sq. ft.
Constr. Cost: $5,420,000
Sq. Ft Cost: $80
Completion Date: 1995
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School of Environmental Studies Program
Minnesota Zoo, Apple Valley, Minnesota

Facility Program Summary

This optional high school is the result of a unique partnership developed between ISD 196, the Minnesota Zoological Gardens and the City of Apple Valley with support from Dakota County and the State of Minnesota. The building represents the first of several thematic two-year high schools planned for the district. With a focus on mentorship/internship programs developed through the Zoo and the community, the building incorporates environmental products, energy efficient systems and with the surrounding site serves as both an interpretive center and living laboratory for students and visitors alike.

Overlooking Birch Pond to the southeast, the school’s communal spaces are grouped to form the heart of the school. A multi-use commons and forum space functions as student commons, gallery, cafeteria, conference center, auditorium and showplace. A somewhat separate IMC acts as central resource for all functions with a focus on technology.

Four houses overlook these central spaces sharing views out to Birch Pond and northwest to the woods and prairie beyond. Each house supports 20 five-student workstations grouped around a central lecture/resource space designed to house two large group learning settings. A science lab, teacher planning room, convertible conference room and classroom round out each house.

While athletic and music education are offered off-site, unique specialization opportunities in the school are a botany/zoology laboratory, art/construction studio, multi-media and video studio and outdoor roof terrace and plaza workshops.