West Valley School
Kalispell, MT
Completed September 2015

CTA Architects Engineers
13 N. 23rd St.
Billings, MT 59101
+seven more locations in Montana

“I’ve never seen anything like this.”
-Cal Ketchum | Superintendent, West Valley School District

Before renovation and addition to the K-8 West Valley School could commence, a $7 million bond needed passage, for which CTA helped rally community support through a comprehensive education planning effort.

Budget adherence and revision dominated team meetings, leading to meticulous understanding of every dollar’s allocation; yet high performance and inspired design were never sacrificed. The designers brought fun but affordable and implementable ideas to the table, aiding the team in reaching quick, decisive conclusions. One insightful alternative to imported fill was stepping the floor structure and architecture to fit the existing site — a clever tactic that alone saved over $500,000. In fact, so much money remained in the budget that after every priority “need” had been met, additional “wants” were addressed.

The addition included a new entry commons, second practice gym, library, music room, kitchen, and 15 additional classrooms. With classroom-width hallways bisecting the learning spaces, the new rooms are highly convertible: sliding and rolling overhead doors, made of laminated glass and seals to maintain acoustics, perform like walls when they’re closed, but open to allow for unprecedented utilization of rooms and tiered thoroughfares as co-teaching space, lunchroom, or indoor amphitheater. Moreover, selected furniture is light and on wheels, easily reassembled into individual, small group, or large group configurations. Distinctly bright and unique colors adorn classroom walls and help with wayfinding.

Within a facility that had been grown piecemeal for 50 years, the CTA team was able to deliver a durable, interesting, interactive, and flexible 21st century-ready school that provided all spatial needs promised to the voters in response to their population growth.

West Valley School
Kalispell, MT
Completed September 2015

CTA Architects Engineers
13 N. 23rd St.
Billings, MT 59101
+seven more locations in Montana

“I’ve never seen anything like this.”
-Cal Ketchum | Superintendent, West Valley School District

Before renovation and addition to the K-8 West Valley School could commence, a $7 million bond needed passage, for which CTA helped rally community support through a comprehensive education planning effort.

Budget adherence and revision dominated team meetings, leading to meticulous understanding of every dollar’s allocation; yet high performance and inspired design were never sacrificed. The designers brought fun but affordable and implementable ideas to the table, aiding the team in reaching quick, decisive conclusions. One insightful alternative to imported fill was stepping the floor structure and architecture to fit the existing site — a clever tactic that alone saved over $500,000. In fact, so much money remained in the budget that after every priority “need” had been met, additional “wants” were addressed.

The addition included a new entry commons, second practice gym, library, music room, kitchen, and 15 additional classrooms. With classroom-width hallways bisecting the learning spaces, the new rooms are highly convertible: sliding and rolling overhead doors, made of laminated glass and seals to maintain acoustics, perform like walls when they’re closed, but open to allow for unprecedented utilization of rooms and tiered thoroughfares as co-teaching space, lunchroom, or indoor amphitheater. Moreover, selected furniture is light and on wheels, easily reassembled into individual, small group, or large group configurations. Distinctly bright and unique colors adorn classroom walls and help with wayfinding.

Within a facility that had been grown piecemeal for 50 years, the CTA team was able to deliver a durable, interesting, interactive, and flexible 21st century-ready school that provided all spatial needs promised to the voters in response to their population growth.

How to Be an Architect

Architects must be licensed before they can practice as an architect or call themselves an architect. There are three main steps in becoming an architect: education, internship and examination.

  • Education: The Montana State University School of Architecture offers a Master of Architecture professional degree that is fully accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). In the United States, most state registration boards require a degree from an accredited professional degree program as a prerequisite.
  • Internship: Most state architectural registration boards require architectural graduates to complete an internship in order to become licensed.
  • Examination: All states require the completion of the Architect Registration Examination, in order to gain licensure within the 54 jurisdictions covered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB).


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