28 West Market Street Mount Union, Pennsylvania 17066
This project encompasses comprehensive modernization of a mid-century school. Mount Union, located on the Juniata River (at the foot of Jack’s Mountain) was once called the “Silica Brick Capital of the World” amid its three large refractory plants that made brick, used to line steel furnaces and coke ovens. This small (2,500 populous) community had long ago faced economic challenges with the closure of the three brickyards, marking the end of coal mining in the “broad-top” area of Huntingdon County. With an average annual income for families of $21,400, the community continues to face the challenge of creating opportunities for its young people. Faced with a declining enrollment and aging facilities, the Mount Union School District had no choice but to undertake a building program in the late 1990s which resulted in the closure of its 1920s era Mount Union Elementary School. Despite that, increases in program needs, especially for special education, resulted in space needs at the elementary schools. The community also experienced a decline in the business District resulting from the closure of the downtown elementary school. The 1954 Jr/Sr High School had been partially renovated in 1992, but as a very limited renovation project because substantial aid was lost. Working with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) McKissick Architects secured a variance to the “20-year rule” permitting the project to proceed 8 years earlier than expected. A strong desire existed to better separate junior and senior high age pupils as well as improved educational offerings.