University Academy Charter School
Panama City, Florida
An abandoned airport terminal is transformed into a charter school as part of a new master planned community.
When a new airport opened in Panama City, the old airport property was acquired by developers planning a new community on the 704 acre site. Called “SweetBay,” the carefully planned area will eventually include homes, commercial space, parks, ponds and green space.
This charter school, the University Academy, is among the first built elements of the new community. The abandoned airport terminal was extensively remodeled and renovated to house a 68,000 SF charter school for 500 students, pre-K through third grade. A second phase will add more classrooms, a gymnasium and athletic fields, with the school eventually serving pre-K through 5th grades. Among the challenges faced by the design team was converting the large amount of high-ceilinged interior public space into the more intimate settings required by elementary education.