School Building Trends
As office buildings evolve with a focus on well-being, flexibility and collaborative possibilities, educators and school builders across the country are concluding that traditional school buildings need a massive re-think too. Here are some of the trends.
Even before the pandemic, studies were finding that nearly 60% of adults had experienced at least one adverse childhood experience—and many had experienced several. Add the pandemic and disruption of these past two years to the traumas that commonly unfold at school, and it’s easy to see how important it is to apply trauma-informed design to school construction. So what does a trauma-informed school building look like? As Victoria Bergsagel, founder of Architects of Achievement, shares with Construction Dive:
As students make their way through the school, there are fewer long, foreboding hallways or fishbowl scenarios — like in a traditional cafeteria, for instance — and more curvilinear spaces that offer visibility of who is coming and going, as well as areas of refuge, such as nooks and balconies.When it comes to layout, “It’s becoming increasingly common to have clusters of learning….” These spaces will place a group of classrooms around a gathering area so occupants have alternate spaces to be, including project-based space.
As for the classrooms themselves, they might feature a “peace corner” where students can take a breath when they need to, use fidget materials, read a book or just sit for a few moments… There’s soothing color schemes, as well as biophilic decor and materials, which are proven to …reduce stress. Maybe the space also has big barn or garage doors, providing access to the outside world.
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Let There Be Light
Relief funding in 2020-2021 is estimated to have made $190.5 billion available for school facilities. Closures even enabled some districts to make rapid progress on new plans. Architects, builders, and educators are seizing the moment and collaborating to construct spaces that keep children safe—and inspired— in a new era for education. For example, in Haslet, Texas, general contractor, Adolfson & Peterson Construction has completed the buildout of a new elementary school, with design partner, Huckabee. The school features a central common space, known as “the nest,” designed to feel like a large tree house and incorporating an open-concept library. “Learning pods” and classrooms with flexible walls provide opportunities to expand and contract space as needed, with natural light flowing throughout. Another interesting approach reported by School Construction was executed in Nashville, Tennessee. The Linden Waldorf School built permanent, year-round, outdoor learning pavilions. The facilities tie right into the school’s curriculum, which incorporates gardening, woodworking, orienteering, botany and movement classes.
Public funds are also being committed across the country for building at community colleges, making them more modern, welcoming and integral in their regions. For example, an expanded resource center for veterans and a completely renovated building for studies in science, math and engineering (SEM)at Cypress College were made possible via a budget measure passed by voters in California’s Orange County.
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