Junior Achievement (JA) of Northern Indiana has been active since 1952, offering economic education and learning experiences for students in kindergarten through high school. In addition to its classroom education programs, JA has thousands of students that participate in its Finance Park and BizTown programs each school year.
With the growth of the two programs, JA was in need of a larger space to accommodate students, while providing a more visible space for awareness. Designed by Design Collaborative, Fort Wayne, Ind., the new 36,500-square-foot building houses the Finance Park and BizTown programs, corporate offices, as well as a new Entrepreneurial Center, Education Atrium and business kiosks.
According to Ron Dick, AIA, partner and director of design at Design Collaborative, the new facility needed to be a fun and friendly environment that would be exciting and empowering for various age groups to visit and use. “The Three Pillars of Junior Achievement—Financial Literacy, Work Readiness, Entrepreneurship—are also evident and mission-centric in the design goals of the facility,” he says.
To help shape the design for the overall facility, Lena Yarian, president of the Northern Indiana JA, engaged a large group of stakeholders from her staff. Each business was sponsored by a local company, who had team members that worked closely with Design Collaborative to give direction on the design of their respective space. “The key design elements in the two different educational parts of the building (BizTown and Finance Park) required the JA staff and the design team to fully engage with over 30 local donor businesses,” adds Matt Elliott, AIA, associate partner and project manager at Design Collaborative. “Each business kiosk was a small design problem, and the design team engaged with each business over several meetings to customize the business centers. In addition to sketches and layouts, the overall vision was constructed into a 3-D video fly through for the final vision sessions.”
Design Collaborative worked alongside American Buildings’ Authorized Builder, The Hagerman Group, Fort Wayne, to build the new campus. Completed in September 2019, the facility is made up of two single-slope pre-engineered buildings and two lean-tos from American Buildings Co., Eufaula, Ala., added to a conventionally framed middle structure. It also features American Buildings’ Standing Seam 360 roof panel and Architectural III wall system.
Elliott says the use of multiple structural systems is a function of programmatic need and opportunity. “Light and volume in all spaces were important, and the need for clerestory windows drove the lean-to design,” he explains. “The conventionally framed core was pursued for a few different reasons. The conventional structure allowed us to utilize smaller framing members and increase the volume of space, while highlighting the exposed structure as an overall building design element. The use of these two different building structures also gave the owner an opportunity to teach the young children coming through the space about different construction methods.”
The flying fascia was a key design element for the project, which in addition to creating visual interest, became an iconic treatment and surround for highlighting windows into the business elements on the building interior. It also provided a billboard-like approach for signage and a large video monitor that describes the programs and happenings in the facility.
Additionally, Design Collaborative worked with TFC Canopy, Garrett, Ind., for the entry canopy. To tie the project design together, perforated metal and cold-rolled steel are used throughout for wayfinding signage, donor recognition and general design elements.
“We are extremely proud of this project and the comments it is receiving around the community,” says Dick. “We believe we have captured the mission and vision of JA, created a fun, attractive and efficient facility … all while creating an attractive, eye-catching, iconic building for the community.”
Content and images courtesy of Metal Architecture.