Update & Call for Proposals: The Former Middle School in Idaho Springs

Design teams have been hard at work, considering how to reimagine learning spaces at the former middle school in Idaho Springs. Recently referred to as Building 103, it was historically called the Tower of Learning. With a 1960’s Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architectural design and built into the mountainside, the building was originally brought to life through the visionary leadership of Bob Metzler. Metzler was a transformational superintendent in Clear Creek School District with a deep belief in personalized learning, innovative classroom techniques, and meaningful community collaboration. 

Architects are working with the Design Oversight Group on the elementary school, which will use just over 70% of the building. Beautiful, modernized learning spaces with a focus on the outdoors will be transformational. Outdoors, there will be playground areas, nature trail access, and outdoor learning space. 

What about the rest of the building? Bond dollars pay for the renovation of the elementary school portion of the building, plus asbestos abatement of the entire building. Anything that goes into other spaces must be funded from a different source, plus be compatible with elementary school safety & security requirements. 

There are a number of exciting ideas being discussed for the additional spaces in the building: early childcare, youth-focused community meeting areas, and arts and education for the community. Outside, community ideas include a skate park or a multi-use field. 

This fall, RTA, the architects leading the design process, will provide information to the CCSD Board of Education regarding the extra spaces. A master plan will eventually be developed. RTA in partnership with CCSD will solicit community input regarding the building spaces. 

Following community input, the CCSD Board of Education will prioritize how the extra spaces can be utilized. Important in this process will be understanding which ideas are compatible with an elementary school, how ideas support the educational programming of CCSD students PK-12, how the ideas benefit the community at large, viability of funding, and the priorities of the Clear Creek community. Additionally, parking needs cannot be ignored as part of the prioritization process. 

Already there are exciting conversations taking place, and in true Bob Metzler style, meaningful collaborations are already bringing the community together. One example of this is the Clear Creek County Arts and Education group. Another example is an employer-based childcare model. 

Call for proposals: 

The CCSD Board of Education would like to hear from local community members who have an interest in utilizing the extra space at the former middle school. If you, or a group of which you are part, would like to offer an expression of interest in the building, please complete this form no later than July 22nd. The Board will discuss proposals late summer, with decisions early fall.

Form: Extra Space Proposals, Former Middle School

Important to remember: 

  • No funding exists to finish spaces at the building; a viable group would need to demonstrate existing funding or the ability to provide future funding. 
  • The elementary school is the priority “program” in the building; therefore, anything that is located in the building must be compatible with a school. The safety & security of our students is the highest priority. 
  • Timeline for elementary school: design completed by February 2023. Construction completed by Summer 2024. 
  • Parking is limited. 

The power of our community is in the collective brilliance and dedication of those who live, work, and play here. 

Thank you, Clear Creek!


Karen Quanbeck, Superintendent & Lead Learner

The CCSD Board of Education