Meeker High School

Meeker School District
Architectural Design, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture, Planning, Programming
PK-12 Education
Meeker, CO
Project type
Renovation and addition

Staying true to the cowboy way

For over 70 years, Meeker High School has been a beloved hub of school and community gatherings in the rural town of Meeker, Colorado. With a rich history and a well-loved facility, Meeker School District decided it was time to update its high school to meet modern student educational needs while protecting its status as a strong source of community pride. Meeker School District passed a bond in 2018 that supported the near replacement of the existing Meeker High School, along with improvements to the transportation facility to create a cohesive and safe campus that housed a broad spectrum of learning opportunities for their students.

The existing gymnasium and auditorium were preserved and renovated, years of drainage issues were resolved, campus safety improved, and all education spaces reimagined to support the district’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. All of this was done while the campus was fully occupied, and the result is a fully daylit facility designed to bring 21st century student-driven education curriculum to the Meeker students while celebrating what it means to be a Meeker Cowboy.

By and for the community

Our team partnered with teachers, staff, community members, and students to make sure all voices were represented. The design advisory group was responsible for not only being ambassadors of the project, but also for defining the core values that would identify project success. Regular meetings throughout the entire project allowed consensus-building, transparent decision-making, and a regular gut-check that the project was staying true to the district’s vision.

The desire to honor where they have been while looking to the future can be found within displays of trophies and artifacts, as well as within the thoughtful re-use of the existing auxiliary gym that now serves as contemporary CTE spaces. Large windows, a dining patio, and direct access to the outdoors from the academic wing provides a connection to the environment, and a large daylit academic commons serves as interactive student space throughout the day. The work of this multi-generational and community-based advisory group makes this school by and for Meeker, continuing its proud tradition of being a focal point and gathering spot for the community.

Because of the community interest in our project, our design advisory group included many individuals with diverse opinions regarding what should be included in the project. The design team did a phenomenal job of integrating various opinions into the final design.

Chris Selle, Superintendent at Meeker School District

Student-centered design outcomes

The Design Advisory Group made it a priority from the start – this school needed to provide a modern and complete educational environment that supports every single student. This set the course for three main design outcomes.

Centralized and connected academic core

Where the crumbling wood shop once stood is now a two-story academic commons that vertically and visually connects classrooms, using layers of transparency and purposeful arrangement for an inclusive and robustly daylit core.

CTE reflecting real community needs

Career and Technical education has long been an anchor for this school, reflecting the local economic drivers and post-education career opportunities. The rich array of CTE programming was co-located in the new school and spaces enlarged to allow collaborative opportunities and training within safe and modern infrastructure.

A place for students

Classrooms and commons spaces are a large part of any school story, but for Meeker it was equally important to capitalize on the in-between spaces. Those spaces that are uniquely positioned to be small touch down or small community zones that support the various needs of the moment, a space for students to make their own. Locker zones that double as standing charging counters, group study spaces nestled at the end of a corridor, and even an under-stair seating nook – these all have an important place in this comprehensively designed high school.

Inspired by rich history and unique geography

Located along the White River and at the base of the famous Flat Top Mountains in northwest Colorado, Meeker is unique not only for its rich landscapes but also for its close-knit farming and ranching heritage. From Main Street to the mesas, the inspiration for the design had a vast palette to draw inspiration from, informing the forms, colors, materials and colors used inside and out.

Equally important was honoring the 70 year old history of the school and what it means and feel like to be a Meeker Cowboy. Generations of families have created memories within its walls, and countless academic and athletic accomplishments made along the way. The large senior class gift ‘M’ that hung on the side of the auditorium was carefully relocated to be the defining element of the academic commons, in its place a backlit mascot installed that serves as beacon of Cowboy pride. Decades of trophies and plaques were culled through and re-displayed in the new Heritage Hallway, celebrating decades of achievements. As the only theater venue within 75 miles, the renovation of the auditorium resulted in a venue that continues to thrive as local community resource.

These are but a few examples of how the project carried the past forward, with the end result being a new school that directly reflects the partnership, identity and pride that runs so deeply through the Meeker community.

Sustainability driven by reuse

All addition and renovation projects begin with an analysis of what can be saved and reused as a first step in our environmentally responsible design process. For the new Meeker High School, the ability to save the existing gymnasiums and auditorium not only set the foundation for sustainable design thinking, but it also acknowledged the project’s core value of honoring tradition.

The layout of the new classroom wing supports another core value of capturing natural lighting wherever possible. A large light well within the academic commons, passively controlled picture windows in the commons, supplementary tubular daylighting devices, and clerestory windows within both gymnasiums bring daylighting to over 90% of all regularly occupied spaces within the building. The daylighting design, combined with other energy savings elements, led to a facility that is expected to provide a 23.2% annual energy cost savings over the 2015 IECC Standard Reference Design.

Energy-saving and wellness measures

With this project replacing a 70-year-old facility, maximizing building performance and enhancing student and staff wellness drove the large design decisions. Operable windows are provided in almost all occupiable spaces, and numerous areas throughout the facility to support individual respite. Special emphasis was provided on ensuring year-round access to wellness activities, resulting in a gymnasium with a mezzanine level running track and a state-of-the-art weights and fitness room.

In addition, energy saving measures were taken to not only support well-being but also the bottom line. This included:

  • A building envelope that is not only durable, but constructed to exceed energy code required U-values by 10% minimum
  • LED lighting throughout the facility
  • Packaged hot water VAV system with 96.4% high efficiency boilers at classroom areas
  • Energy recovery ventilators


Thoughtful design brings natural daylighting into over 90% of all regularly occupied spaces within the facility, supporting a 23.2% annual energy cost savings.


  • 2022 Summit Design Award, Association for Learning Environment Rocky Mountain Chapter
  • 2022 Student’s Choice Award, Association for Learning Environment Rocky Mountain Chapter

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