flexiblefullpage -
billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
Currently Reading

K-12 market trends 2018: Common areas enable hands-on learning

billboard - default
interstitial1 - interstitial
K-12 Schools

K-12 market trends 2018: Common areas enable hands-on learning

Modern designs emphasize social and collaboration spaces outside the classroom.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | July 26, 2018
K-12 market trends 2018: Common areas enable hands-on learning

Wilson School, designed by Leo A Daly and BIG, is under construction in Arlington, Va. The cantilevered “fanning bars” will open up rooftop spaces adjacent to each classroom, providing students a wide range of indoor and outdoor learning environments. Rendering: BIG  

Personalized learning tailored to the needs of individual students, coupled with group projects, is taking hold in the nation's schools. “We can’t just line up students in rows and teach everybody the same way, at the same pace,” says Leanne Meyer-Smith, AIA, LEED AP, VP of Architecture with Wight & Company. “That’s not working.”

In terms of school design, no single template has taken hold, but one thing is certain: long, double-loaded corridors are a thing of the past.

Improved economic conditions have freed up money for new projects and renovations. There’s a sense of urgency to update facilities to make up for the time lost when the Great Recession stymied many projects. “We’ve been seeing a lot more success with school funding referendums,” says Steve Herr, AIA, Director of Design, Fanning Howey. 

 

See also: Top 150 K-12 Architecture + AE Firms - 2018 Giants 300 rankings
See also: Top 75 K-12 Engineering + EA Firms - 2018 Giants 300 rankings
See also: Top 90 K-12 Construction + CM Firms - 2018 Giants 300 rankings

 

Designing schools that can accommodate the pedagogy of today and the teaching styles of tomorrow is educated guesswork. “You have to allow for evolving instructional models without forcing tremendous expense to reconfigure spaces,” says Sean O’Donnell, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal and Practice Area Leader, Primary Education, with Perkins Eastman. Providing a little extra room and flexibility is crucial.

Extra space for learning and socializing can be created in common areas, where students can study and collaborate on projects in nooks and crannies around the school. “Interstitial spaces are really important,” says O’Donnell. 

The building core at the Wilson School, a new 775-student high school under construction in Arlington, Va., will feature a wide staircase that opens out to the lobby, which will double as a gathering place for students. “We typically see that type of space in a university setting,” says Andrew Graham, AIA, Associate with Leo A Daly, the project’s design architect, along with Bjarke Ingels Group.

Even renovations of old double-loaded corridors can get at least part of the way to a modern design. Provided there's sufficient structural support in place, interior walls can be removed and track-mounted wall systems can be installed. “When you open up the walls, the corridor disappears and becomes a learning space,” says Lance Tritsch, LEED AP, Project Director, Pepper Construction.

Even when structural alterations are not possible, spaces can still be reconfigured at relatively low cost. “There’s a lot you can do with agile furniture,” says Meyer-Smith. Classrooms can be spruced up with new carpeting, plush pillows,  and strategically placed bookshelves as dividers.

K-12 school designers are also using the increasing body of scientific evidence that links the interior environment to student performance as they pitch design ideas to district officials. Daylighting and indoor air quality are always on the front burner in these discussions.

Acoustic clarity within the classroom is also a major consideration. “If students can’t hear the teacher clearly, their ability to learn is impaired,” says Laura Wernick, FAIA, REFP, LEED AP, Senior Principal with HMFH Architects. Reducing noise is especially critical for children with ADHD, a condition exacerbated by excessive stimuli. 

HMFH brings in experts at various stages of the project to measure and analyze classroom acoustics. This enables designers and contractors to identify noise problems early, before they get too expensive to fix, says Chin Lin, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Associate with HMFH.

 

Wilson School, Arlington, Va

 

Children with ADHD and other conditions that are made worse by excessive stimuli can benefit from the use of tunable LEDs, says Lin. “Dimming and providing warmer tones through lighting is calming,” he says. With color-tunable lighting currently costing about twice as much as standard lighting, schools are likely to use the more expensive options in special needs classrooms where they can do the most good.

The trend toward more hands-on learning remains strong. STEAM and STREAM (the “R” is for robotics) curricula often include maker spaces equipped with 3D printers. O’Donnell says “flight lounges"—areas adjacent to maker spaces, where teachers from different subject areas can get together to devise interdisciplinary teaching strategies and hands-on student projects—are coming into vogue.

 

getting students out into the world

High schools are also experimenting with giving students real-world business experience. The new Carmel (Ind.) High School has a 2,000-sf space for a student-run coffee shop and retail outlet featuring school-themed clothing and gear. Students perform all the managerial, accounting, marketing, graphics, and communication tasks to run the business. There's even a “Shark Tank,” where students can pitch ideas using whiteboards and high-end presentation tools.

A 30,000-sf space in a repurposed warehouse at the Brooklyn (N.Y.) Navy Yard is dedicated to the STEAM Center, where 11th and 12th graders from Brooklyn schools spend half of each day learning vocational and technical skills such as engineering, design, construction, film and media, and culinary arts.

“Students are introduced to companies in the Navy Yard and have the opportunity to participate in internships,” says Christine Schlendorf, AIA, Principal with Perkins Eastman.

  

Related Stories

K-12 Schools | Dec 27, 2021

A ‘new urbanist’ middle school takes shape in Austin

Design-build delivery, still rare for Texas school construction, fit expeditiously for this project.

K-12 Schools | Dec 10, 2021

Trends in K-12 school design, with Dan Boggio and Melissa Turnbaugh of PBK

Dan Boggio and Melissa Turnbaugh of PBK, the largest K-12 design firm in the U.S.,  discuss the favorable market conditions and the latest trends in K-12 school design with BD+C's Rob Cassidy.    

Giants 400 | Nov 18, 2021

2021 K-12 School Sector Giants: Top architecture, engineering, and construction firms in the U.S. K-12 school facilities sector

PBK, Gilbane, AECOM, and DLR Group head BD+C's rankings of the nation's largest K-12 school facilities sector architecture, engineering, and construction firms, as reported in the 2021 Giants 400 Report.

K-12 Schools | Nov 16, 2021

Massachusetts’ first net-positive energy public school opens

Part of the town of Westborough’s goal to be carbon-neutral by 2035.

K-12 Schools | Nov 14, 2021

New Blackwater Community School completed for Gila River Indian Community, in Arizona

Construction on the new Blackwater Community School, a two-story structure on the Gila River Indian Community, located southeast of Phoenix, Arizona, was completed on August 31, 2021.

K-12 Schools | Nov 10, 2021

K-12 school design innovation: 'Learning Everywhere' and the mobile classroom

Last September, AIA San Francisco awarded the Professional Category in its 2021 Future Classroom Competition to a five-person team from Culver City, Calif.-based Berliner Architects. The firm was selected for its “Learning Everywhere” idea that features a mobile strategy for education at school, home, on field trips, and in transit. BD+C's John Caulfield discuss that concept with Richard Berliner, AIA, Principal, Berliner Architects.

Cladding and Facade Systems | Oct 26, 2021

14 projects recognized by DOE for high-performance building envelope design

The inaugural class of DOE’s Better Buildings Building Envelope Campaign includes a medical office building that uses hybrid vacuum-insulated glass and a net-zero concrete-and-timber community center.

School Construction | Sep 30, 2021

Renovation of Candeo North Scottsdale completes

SPS+ Architects designed the project, which was built by Adolfson & Peterson.

| Sep 20, 2021

K-12 school design trends for 2021, with Wold's Vaughn Dierks

K-12 school design exert Vaughn Dierks discusses the latest K-12 school design trends and needs.

boombox2 -
native1 -

More In Category




halfpage1 -

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021

 


Magazine Subscription
Subscribe

Get our Newsletters

Each day, our editors assemble the latest breaking industry news, hottest trends, and most relevant research, delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe

Follow BD+C: