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John S. McCain III

Summarize the project's program, features and achievements.

John S. McCain III Elementary is a K-8 school that serves 500+ students in the historic and fast-growing community of Buckeye, Arizona. The school focuses on helping kids develop future-ready skills, including critical thinking, design, collaboration, and problem solving. John S. McCain III Elementary School is organized with three learning communities initially operated along traditional age-based grade bands, but easily adapts to an ability-based cohort organized around pedagogies involving teacher facilitated-student directed learning. The learner-centric communities feature multi-dimensional infrastructures that support brain-based learning modalities and offer a high degree of flexibility, variety, and collaborative opportunities at multiple scales. The use of concrete as the main building material allowed for these varied spaces to be achieved.

What obstacles were overcome related to the schedule, budget, program, specification, site, etc. on this project?

The school site changed during permit review, setting the schedule back by five months. To make up the time, a fast-track construction schedule was implemented. John S. McCain III Elementary School broke ground in November 2020 and had to be completed by August 2021 in advance of the new school year. The tilt panels allowed for the school to be erected quickly and efficiently.

Communicate any engineering complexities or unique features of the panel design for this project.

John S. McCain III Elementary School embraces and embeds the life, work, and ethics of the late senator John S. McCain III into the fabric of the built environment. Courageous, collaborative, thinkers, team leaders — these are character traits that are forever coded into the concrete walls comprising the school. Reveals and the absence of reveals in each tilt panel represent 1s and 0s, creating a binary code spelling out each trait. The students who inhabit these spaces are, in turn, sculpted by the words and the memory of the late Senator, which are integrated into the school walls. Unique features of the tilt panels also include integral cantilevered concrete seats for the kindergarten classroom reading nooks. Another engineering achievement is the exterior stairs at the two-story classroom building were hung with integral steel bracing from the tilt panels allowing for no columns and open walkway below. The panels were varied in size to minimize concrete material and economize the design. Other efficiencies included pre-casting mechanical duct openings within the concrete to avoid post-insulation.

What is the potential for this project's impact on the community and/or environment?

High performance and biophilic design principles such as ample natural light, views, access to the outdoors, and balance of prospect and refuge, etc., help the site cater to occupant wellness while creating a solid foundation for higher order learning. The life, legacy, and ethics of Senator McCain are embedded through a branding strategy employing computational design and are traits left for students to unpack through the course of their development and growth at the school.

Main banner image for John S. McCain III

Project Location

Buckeye, AZ 85326
United States


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Project Images


Project Team (TCA Members)

General Contractor:
Concrete Contractor:
Matt Winquist

Project Specifics

Project Category:
Building Types:
Elementary School
Paint (Flat)
Post Applied (Interior)
Number of Floors:
Number of Panels:
96 panels
Tilt-Up Wall Area:
44,632 sq ft (4,146 sq m)
Total Floor Area:
95,000 sq ft (8,826 sq m)
Project Footprint:
95,000 sq ft (8,826 sq m)
Tallest Panel:
33 ft 6 in (10.21 m)
Widest Panel:
38 ft 11 in (11.86 m)
Heaviest Panel:
73,147 lbs (33,179 kg)
Tallest Cantilever:
38 ft 11 in (11.86 m)