Tri-North Middle School

Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC) identified the need to replace the aging Tri-North Middle School. CSO and BrainSpaces, an expert in brain-based educational planning and design, led a visioning and programming process that enabled CSO to design a new building tailored to the specific needs and vision of Tri-North students, teachers, and administrators.

The building layout utilizes next generation learning elements including an open media center, collaboration spaces, and small group rooms throughout the building. Teachers and administrators expressed the need for spaces to be flexible and adaptable to a rapidly changing educational world. CSO’s design addresses the need for flexibility by implementing features such as the use of operable theater seating in the Performance / Large Group Instruction space, operable partitions in Science and STEM labs, and spaces that are planned to facilitate the use of both departmental and interdisciplinary teaching models.

MCCSC also emphasized the need for sustainable design considerations which were implemented with plans for a geothermal system, solar array on the gym roof, and use of local materials and native plants. The leadership of MCCSC is excited for the New Tri-North Middle School to be the crown jewel for this Bloomington community.

Guilford Elementary School

Each neighborhood cluster houses an entire grade level and radiates from the central hub of the building where a two-story Discovery Center, Art Studio, and Music Classroom are all located. Near this central hub are the cafeteria, gymnasium, and main office area within close proximity to the main entry point.

The central commons space for each neighborhood contains a STEM lab, multiple small group rooms, and a large open gathering space to accommodate as many different activities as possible. Natural daylight abounds in these spaces with direct views to the exterior from every space. CSO paid special attention to transitions of one space to other, creating lower ceiling areas of compression as a response to PCSC autism program anticipated to be housed here.

In designing this new facility, CSO explored Plainfield’s rich history and were able to implement different concepts as part of the interior color pallet, materials, and wayfinding concepts. The administration emphasized the desire to create a modern building with timeless appeal while being good stewards of their communities’ investment. With this in mind CSO melded modern and traditional design concepts utilizing a masonry veneer with traditional elements juxtaposed to large windows with metal panel picture frames. The result is a modern building with classic elements that will age gracefully over the coming years.

Imagination Lab

Plainfield Schools sought to repurpose a 17,000 square foot natatorium into an educational facility. Their goal was to create an innovative, inspiring, hands-on learning facility branded as the “Imagination Lab”. A team of a passionate educators were assembled to work with the design team. They worked together to establish the program and over-arching goals for the facility. In order to enhance the ability of the educators to envision the space, designers used virtual reality to allow educators to be “in” the spaces and provide amazing feedback that designers were able to build upon. The resulting design created an environment to empower students to think for themselves, imagine their futures, and grow the confidence, desire, and drive it takes to change the world.

A large lab space establishes the heart of the facility with supplementary spaces for focused means and methods of learning, building, creating, inventing, and investigating. At one end, a fabrication lab with sinks and work benches encourages hands on, messy work while two green rooms with cycloramas for video recording, two acoustically treated sound rooms for editing, and tables designed for collaboration around a computer are at the opposite end. A centrally focused gathering stair made of solid walnut planks provides an opportunity for speakers of all ages to present to large groups. Four Thinking Studios sit parallel to the lab and house artists-in-residence and encourage community vendors to provide an on-site learning experience. A Collaboration Corridor connects the Thinking Studios and the Lab. Flexible furniture provides options for various postures and group sizes as they work together to problem-solve, create, and learn. Operable glass partitions connect the corridor to the lab as well as connecting all of the thinking studios in order to create a large, open space supporting multiple functions.

Mobility was key as the needs and experiences change throughout the days, as do the ages of the students. The space comes to life with a wall graphic that captures the concept of the flow of learning. The mission of the Imagination Lab was to empower students to think for themselves, imagine their futures, and grow the confidence, desire, and drive it takes to change the world. The District will tell you: mission accomplished.

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.

Cathedral High School Innovation Center

The Innovation Center would continue to strengthen the commitment to a flexible and focused learning environment, emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Learning Studios. The goal would be to encourage and promote a collaborative experience in all of the learning spaces, and provide a more open, group-oriented Science area, de-emphasizing compartmentalized education and promoting group and team learning across several disciplines. Plans for the open Science area include 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 between the faculty and students, faculty and faculty, and student to student. The proximity and accessibility of the faculty is purposeful. However, break out rooms and small group rooms would provide for 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 would also contain 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 would also allow 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 will be located near the cafeteria in a prominent location for both students and visiting parents/alumni.

Architecturally, The Innovation Center will create a new “front door” to campus.  The center is an addition to Kelly Hall and will be featured on the courtyard between the existing Student Life Center (SLC) and Loretta Hall.  The new addition will incorporate 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.