Denver School of Science & Technology

A break-the-mold new school required a bold, innovative design, and that’s what Denver School of Science and Technology got. DSST is a charter school and the first of four demonstration schools intended to serve as a model for future Colorado public schools. Project architect Sam Miller of Klipp, Denver, designed the 65,000-square-foot building as a learning laboratory for students, filled with natural light and with ample views of the external environment. The facility features a 6,000-square-foot FT 451 storefront system manufactured by United States Aluminum, Waxahachie, Texas, with VE 1-52 1-inch Solarscreen low-emissivity insulating glass manufactured by Viracon of Owatonna, Minn.

Developed on a 10.4 acre parcel of Denver’s former Stapleton Airport and completed in January 2005 at a cost of $9.9 million, DSST also has 2,700 square feet of interior glass to bring natural light deep inside the building, make classroom supervision easier and enable observers to see the process of learning. A particular focal point is the two-story circulation area known as the galleria. The 26-foot high space has a mosaic of windows placed at high, middle and low vantage points looking outside and into a series of laboratories. One of these rooms, the robotics laboratory, where students experiment with computer-assisted design and manufacture, has an entire wall of glass facing the galleria. The 1⁄4-inch clear tempered glass was supplied by Glass Inc. of Englewood, Colo.

The theme of building-as-learning laboratory is most obvious in the exposed infrastructure elements. Glass and glazing contractor J.R. Butler Inc. of Denver installed 5,800 square feet of clear Twin Wall 10-millimeter polycarbonate material manufactured by Polygal of Charlotte, N.C., in various locations throughout the building. This was used to showcase the plumbing, HVAC and structural components.

“Our approach was definitely not institutional,” Miller says. “We wanted this to be a cool school where kids could see an air handler outside, see the pipes going into the building and how it connects to a duct that runs to a classroom. We wanted the opportunity for learning.”