Carmel & Clay Center Elementary Schools

In 2018 Carmel Clay Schools (CCS) began the process of evaluating their projected enrollments and addressing their aging elementary schools. The end result was the decision to replace their oldest elementary school in the heart of downtown Carmel on the same site and build a new elementary school on the West side of town.

Through evaluation of their existing facilities, user group meetings, and administrative input, CSO was able to develop a design solution personalized to the specific needs and desires of teachers, faculty, administrators, and students.

CCS wanted to retain what was good and functional about their existing facilities while also creating innovative learning environments ready for the next 50+ years of education. CCS had explored a grade level neighborhood or pod concept previously, but teachers expressed frustration with the size and ability to supervise students in these shared spaces. CSO’s design solution is five classrooms with large glass doors that open to a large commons space. Each pair of classrooms includes a shared small group room and ‘cubby alcove’ for student storage. These neighborhoods are expected to house an entire grade level and are paired in the overall layout to allow them to share a secure outdoor courtyard. At the center of the building is the ‘Discovery Center’ with overhead doors that allow students to freely access the space throughout the day. The building is designed to fit in with the surrounding neighborhood.

CCS students and staff are excited for the new opportunities these buildings create for teachers to teach and students to learn in new ways.

Cathedral High School Innovation Center

The Innovation Center strengthens the school’s commitment to a flexible and focused learning environment, emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Learning Studios. The facility’s design encourages and promotes a collaborative experience in all of the learning spaces, and provides a more open, group-oriented Science area, de-emphasizing compartmentalized education and promoting group and team learning across several disciplines. The open Science area includes several laboratories in the same space allowing a more efficient teaching model, while providing enhanced interaction.

An informal study area and open faculty areas promote additional interaction among faculty and students. The proximity and accessibility of the faculty is purposeful. However, break out rooms and small group rooms support one-on-one meetings or private conversations. The learning spaces are intentionally transparent as well as flexible in order to adapt to the changing use of the space and the continued connection to the learning environments.

The Innovation Center also contains the relocated dining and kitchen space in the lower level, allowing students a more flexible approach to food service and more options to the traditional lunch period.  An additional Café allows students to utilize a “grab-n-go” concept during the day. The relocation of the campus cafeteria creates a destination for students during the course of the day, while also creating informal interaction areas in the adjacent spaces.  Additionally, a new Cathedral Spirit Shop is located near the cafeteria in a prominent location for both students and visiting parents/alumni.

Architecturally, The Innovation Center creates a new “front door” to campus.  The center is an addition to Kelly Hall on the courtyard between the existing Student Life Center (SLC) and Loretta Hall.  The new addition incorporates a three-story open atrium between the old Kelly Hall and the architecture of the new addition.  Exterior materials used on the addition are blonde brick (same used on SLC), glass, metal panel and stone veneer panels.  The old limestone façade of Kelly Hall will be preserved and will be the feature of the new, glass-enclosed front entrance.

Plainfield Community Middle School

Originating as Plainfield High School in 1956, the building has been expanded and renovated more than sixteen times over the last 60 years.

CSO’s design solution emphasized impacting learning environments, improving building circulation, and upgrading finishes, lighting, and technology throughout the building. The most dramatic change to the building is a new two-story corridor that cuts through a large portion of the existing building. This new space creates a student commons and a clear main entry for the building. The renovated media center and new STEAM focused ‘Idea Lab’ are placed directly adjacent to the student commons, helping to emphasize their importance to the school.
Classrooms were reorganized into grade level specific areas to breakdown the large footprint of the building. Designers capitalized on underutilized space throughout the building by removing walls to corridors to create shared collaboration and break out spaces for teachers to utilize throughout the day.

Various construction types and methods from multiple eras posed a unique challenge for CSO’s designers. By thinking creatively and relying on their expertise, they were able to breathe new life into this building.

Willow Lake Elementary School

CSO worked closely with Washington Township Schools’ administrators, building-level principals and faculty, and the Design Team to develop a program for a prototypical two story, K-5 elementary school with six 5-classroom learning neighborhoods, an administrative area, shared activity area, gymnasium, dining commons, discovery center, kitchen, and building support spaces.

Each learning neighborhood has a shared activity commons that is large enough for the entire neighborhood to gather and is easily accessible from each classroom. The overall layout of the learning neighborhoods creates two outdoor learning labs and an interior learning lab courtyard that are easily accessed from all learning neighborhoods and discovery center. The interior courtyard will serve as both educational outdoor space and a source of natural light for both levels.

Adjacent to the learning neighborhoods are the instructional spaces for art, world language, the project/idea lab, and a self-contained learning studio which provides the possibility of a flex classroom should a grade level size fluctuate and need an additional classroom. Music is the only enrichment activity not directly adjacent to the neighborhoods. The music lab is located adjacent to the dining commons where there is a raised platform for performances. This also provides a good separation for the higher noise levels in the music lab from the rest of the instructional spaces.

A centrally located Discovery Center has a large two-story open area for book stacks as well as a Media Production Lab.

Willow Lake Elementary School was built on the site of an existing elementary school that was completely demolished to accommodate the new school, parking, and site improvements while preserving the existing baseball diamonds and soccer field.

Center Grove Innovation Center

Center Grove’s new Innovation Center is a hub for 21st Century learning focused on preparing students of all ages for careers in STEM fields. The Center provides a student-centered learning environment with space for a variety of student experiences including: project-based learning, community partnerships, high-level problem solving, innovative collaborative learning, and cutting edge technology.

The first phase of the project includes a robotics lab to serve as the home to the award-winning Red Alert Robotics team. Prior to the renovation, the robotics team had to test their machines in the high school hallways or empty classrooms. The new design provides ample space for fabrication/tools, assembly/testing, and a full-sized practice pit.

The second phase of the design includes a central organizing “Collaboration Zone” between three large classroom labs dedicated to Basic, Advanced, and Industrial STEM activities and three large-group areas for CAD/computer activities, design exercises, media-based collaboration, and discussions. The flexible spaces accommodate all ages, from elementary students learning with Lego ™ components, to high school students using advanced 3D printing and manufacturing processes.

The STEM labs are open to each other and can be divided to accommodate individualized activities with adjacent break-out spaces for smaller groups. Specific colors designate each STEM lab and extend out into the Collaboration Zone to easily orient young learners. Teachers are able to use electronic tablets to display information on TV screens located around the experiment room or stream videos of an experiment or activities so that all students are able to see it.

Clearwater Elementary School

CSO worked closely with Washington Township Schools’ administrators, building-level principals and faculty, and the Design Team to develop a program for a prototypical two story, K-5 elementary school with six 5-classroom learning neighborhoods, an administrative area, shared activity area, gymnasium, dining commons, discovery center, kitchen, and building support spaces.

Each learning neighborhood has a shared activity commons that is large enough for the entire neighborhood to gather and is easily accessible from each classroom. The overall layout of the learning neighborhoods creates two outdoor learning labs and an interior learning lab courtyard that are easily accessed from all learning neighborhoods and discovery center. The interior courtyard will serve as both educational outdoor space and a source of natural light for both levels.

Adjacent to the learning neighborhoods are the instructional spaces for art, world language, the project/idea lab, and a self-contained learning studio which provides the possibility of a flex classroom should a grade level size fluctuate and need an additional classroom. Music is the only enrichment activity not directly adjacent to the neighborhoods. The music lab is located adjacent to the dining commons where there is a raised platform for performances. This also provides a good separation for the higher noise levels in the music lab from the rest of the instructional spaces.

A centrally located Discovery Center has a large two-story open area for book stacks as well as a Media Production Lab.

Clearwater Elementary School was built on the site of an existing elementary school that was completely demolished to accommodate the new school, parking, and site improvements while preserving the existing baseball diamonds and soccer field.