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Metal panels add panache to new Georgia elementary school

Bleckley County, Ga., advertises itself as one of the “best-kept secrets” in Middle Georgia, and photos show the largely rural district offers loads of opportunities for outdoor activities. And, while located about an hour south of Macon, Ga., the area hasn’t seen the kind of sprawl that has turned Atlanta’s metro area into a giant, heavily trafficked suburb. But the slower pace of life doesn’t mean the county’s children are lacking in educational opportunity – Public School Review recently ranked student math and reading performance there in the top 20% of the state. And, as a new primary school there shows, the community is willing to invest to maintain that level of educational quality. And, as that new school’s metal and brick exterior illustrates, the locals like a bit of style, as well.

The new Bleckley County Primary School is designed to serve the district’s 750 pre-k through second grade students. In planning the exterior, designers with Altman + Barrett Architects opted for a contemporary approach to the Greek Revival style used for the previous primary school (which has been repurposed to house school district offices). So, a columned, semicircular, portico-style entry serves as a signature design element, while the primarily brick walls feature metal wall-panel “columns” and fascia to break up the visual mass.

To create these highlights, the architects cleverly paired two different metal wall panel profiles from Petersen’s Highline wall panel lineup. These included 17,500 sq. ft. of wider B2 panels that run as banding to separate adjacent sections of M1 panels, which feature a narrower, more corrugated appearance. All the panels are finished in Stone White and are fabricated from a mix of 24- and 22-gauge steel. This panel combination primarily is installed horizontally, but it flips to vertical to emphasize height around the perimeter of the central hub of the school’s hub-and-spoke design.