Project File: Exploring an alternative setting

Dec. 1, 2004
Metropolitan Learning Alliance, Minneapolis

In a collaboration with the Mall of America — the largest shopping mall in the United States, near Minneapolis — and five school districts, the architect designed one of the first mall schools: the Metropolitan Learning Alliance (MLA).

The school is 12,200 square feet, has only six feet of frontage in the mall, and is designed for 120 learners. Efforts were made to maximize the space to convey the school's presence to the public. A student-built wooden canoe became a centerpiece in the entry of the new space. The design also incorporates space for artwork to be displayed along the commons wall as constant examples of the students' abilities to create and inspire.

The architect also has begun work on another school in the mall: the satellite location of the MacPhail Center for Music. When the 4,390-square-foot center is complete, it will be home to five music studios and four classrooms, and have an exterior reminiscent of the keys on a piano.

The architect for this project is Cuningham Group Architects, P.A. (Minneapolis).

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