When Apex Friendship Middle School opened in fall 2018, students were excited to experience collaborative spaces, a key feature of the school. Located in Apex, North Carolina, the school also includes features such as a state-of-the-art media center and flexible locations close to classrooms where teachers can conduct lessons. Apex Friendship Middle School’s principal believes amenities like these help 21st century students learn.

The building was designed by Perkins + Will, which puts a premium on innovation, collaboration and sustainability when designing buildings, and states that “people’s lives can be improved through the design of the built environment.”

Apex Friendship Middle School is a three-story building covering 234,000 square feet. The exterior is a blend of traditional brick veneer and modern metal. The design includes nearly 10,000 square feet of insulated metal panels (IMPs) from Kingspan.

Insulated metal panels were chosen for a variety of reasons, including palette options, profile options and the fact that Apex Friendship Middle School was designed to be a prototype school for the county. Therefore, it needed to utilize materials that could easily be replicated on future schools.

Two versions of Kingspan’s BENCHMARK Designwall Architectural Wall Panels were used – Designwall 2000, which is a smooth version, and Designwall R Series, which is a ribbed version. The Designwall panels allow for flexibility in architectural design and their special joint design provides maximum thermal efficiency by creating a double barrier against air and water penetration.

The project called for a high number of corner extrusions, modified edges and modified joints for the more than 800 Kingspan insulated metal panels. Extrusions help the architect achieve the desired look in a cost-effective way, covering the cut ends of panels and providing a tight envelope.

IMPs really came in handy in highlighting the large outdoor common areas, including a courtyard, created for students to gather.

“With the courtyard being the hub of the school, we wanted a material that could enliven the space,” said Steven Brown, senior project manager at Perkins + Will. “Insulated metal panels allowed us different profile and color options while seamlessly incorporating storefront windows to maximize daylight.”

The motto of Apex Friendship Middle School is “uncovering brilliance by growing hearts and minds”. Middle school is a developmental period for children and growing in a collaborative environment can only help their learning and their future.

Dr. Jim Martin, Wake County Board of Education vice-chair and a teacher himself, said at the school’s grand opening, “We can teach in any classroom, but if you give us a good space, the learning is so much deeper and richer.”