Jim Darcy Elementary
A 2020 AIA Montana Design Award recipient, the 500 student K-5 Jim Darcy Elementary school is inspired by his namesake Jim Darcy, a Helena native who gave his life serving others during the Vietnam War. A helicopter pilot, Jim selflessly flew into a hot zone to deliver much needed food to others and his helicopter was hit by rifle fire. He was able to deliver the food and get clear before the crash. The 67,000 sq ft design reflects the best of 21st Century learning with shared classrooms, common areas for collaborative learning, and a “learning stair” that serves as an impromptu classroom. The plan is representative of the streams that flow through the Helena valley. A primary corridor serves teach pods that branch off the main circulation. Rooflines represent flight and the materials are intentionally warm in direct contrast to the cool spring and fall days and cold winters when the wind can drive temperatures down fast. The local National Guard donated restored helicopter blades that hang in the main lobby and a Blackhawk helicopter brought the American flag in during the ribbon cutting ceremony.