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Exeter School Multi-Purpose Space

Dake Wells Architecture

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Exeter R-VI School District

Project Status


Year Completed



11,000 sq. feet

Construction Cost




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Project Description

This 11,000 s.f. addition claims an existing interstitial space to provide a social center for the community’s musical programs and sporting events. The project takes a 3-in1 approach to provide a new multi-use space linking unconnected buildings for a cafeteria, practice gym, and performance hall. The space is flooded with light through clerestory windows at its ends and centrally located skylights. Equipped with basketball goals and athletic floor, it is also a performance hall with an adjacent music room and stage.

The project is defined by maximum constraints and requires maximum flexibility. Located in rural Exeter, Missouri, population 707, the school serves as the heart of the community where existing facilities consisted of multiple pre-engineered metal buildings and a maze of tight corridors. By locating the project in an existing courtyard, the solution reorganizes and unifies the campus. The practice gymnasium is a large space, often characterized by poor sound quality. Yet, musical performances require quality acoustics. These conflicting requirements were resolved through one simple move: a folded wood element created to control and optimize acoustics. Inspired by a sushi roll with layers of varying absorptiveness, folds in the ceiling reflect sound and direct it to the audience below, while surrounding materials absorb sound and eliminate reverberation. The ceiling is suspended to allow sound to dissipate in the void above while perforations in the wood further fine-tune the space.

The project also includes the renovation of a 5,500 s.f. adjacent building to provide three new classrooms, an office suite, and a new entrance for the elementary school. The project celebrates public assembly in this rural community.
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