Architects Chose Concrete Masonry to Deliver Modern, Secure and Welcoming Design

When Charlotte-based Cort Architectural Group was chosen to design the Mountain View Elementary School in Morganton, NC, father-son team, John and Hamilton Cort, focused on creating a modern, secure, and welcoming space with a flexible and functional flow pattern. 

In fact, Mountain View Elementary School became one of Burke County’s showcase schools when it opened its doors to students in August 2018. The single-level design plan includes the integration of concrete masonry units and masonry veneer stone looks to create a warm, inviting structure accentuated by masonry columns and a vaulted ceiling entryway. Furthermore, the strength of masonry construction provides resilience in the event of winds and storms and enhances overall security of the building.

Recognized for their expertise in school design, the Corts consider constructability to be paramount in design, which they achieved with the modularity of three wall system solutions used for the school’s interior and exterior. 

“We’re huge fans of masonry in general,” said Cort, “For a school like Mountain View, it adds a rich look that stayed within budget and allowed us to adhere to the timeline.” 

For load-bearing walls and interior partition walls, Cort specified Concrete Masonry Units (CMUs). For the exterior, full bed depth masonry veneer was used to create a complete design scheme with colors in concert with the foothills of North Carolina. Concrete Masonry Units (CMUs) were used to support the roof systems, fire-rated walls for hallways, and exterior walls.

For the designers, gray CMU block was also an essential part of the process, serving as the structural backup to the exterior masonry stone-look veneers.

Using concrete masonry also allowed Cort to design a cavity wall system to deliver continuous insulation and air venting. Detailing was simple, because it uses the same wall ties, flashing, weeps, lintels and other details used in clay brick designs.  

For this Burke County school, innovation and sustainability in design were essential, as were the durability and performance of both the block and stone-look veneers. Each product provides the needed mold resistance, low maintenance, and aesthetics for the finish.  

The success of the project is best defined by the client—Burke County Public Schools. Dr. Larry Putnam, Superintendent Burke County Public Schools, said, “Mountain View Elementary School was designed and built to optimize learning in a beautiful, modern setting. It was an amazing process to witness over a 15-month period, from the laying of the cornerstone to the first day of school in August.”

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