Hamilton Southeastern Schools conducted a community study and determined that rather than building a third high school to meet the needs of their growing community, they would build advanced learning center academies at each campus to accommodate an additional 1,000 students.
CSO was selected to work with stakeholders to explore the requirements of a learning center that would meet their academic needs while taking into consideration what teaching and learning looks like at institutions of higher education and centers of innovative learning. CSO worked with educational experts to gather stakeholder input around the tenets of 21st Century School Design and developed design concepts that met the required scope and quality for the project. Design documents and detailed renderings were developed for both high schools and were critical in the passing of the May 2013 referendum. After the referendum was passed, CSO used the detailed design documents to develop the design criteria package that allowed the school corporation to issue an RFP for design-build teams. CSO stayed on the project through construction as owner’s representative.
In addition to expanding each high school’s capacity by 1,000 students, the academies also reflect the most innovative design for teaching and learning with accessible space for early college classes that provide actual college credits for high school students. Additions are 2-stories and reflect the qualities of 21st Century Design with copious daylight, transparency in learning spaces, ubiquitous technology, and flexible learning spaces that are sized for small and large group gatherings. Teachers do not “own” their classroom space but have an office space available, similar to the arrangements in higher education. A Student Learning Commons, adjacent to the student café, has technology tables and opportunities for small group collaboration. A large, open science lab serves all disciplines and art labs open to one another, creating a free flowing creative environment.
The design of this new two-story K-4 elementary builds on concepts from CSO’s design of Southeastern Elementary School. While programming for this new school with HSE administrators, principals, and faculty, the design team determined the previous school design was a resounding success and very few enhancements were recommended for improvement. Daylighting and views, visibility, flexible furniture, classroom extensions, and multiple types of learning spaces are still key elements of the inquiry-based learning environment created.
Each learning neighborhood includes six studios (classrooms) and a central shared activity commons that is large enough for the entire neighborhood to gather. Also included in each neighborhood is a small STEM lab/kitchenette, three small group rooms, and three sets of student restrooms. Outdoor courtyards, patios, and rooftop terraces help bring the outdoors in and provide additional opportunity for extending the classroom outside.
Adjacent to the learning neighborhoods are instructional spaces for art and music along with a language/global studies/resource studio The close proximity between the neighborhoods and the enrichment areas provides the possibility of a flex classroom should a grade level size fluctuate and need an additional classroom.
The most central point in the building is the Discovery Center (Media Center) and support spaces. A large, two-story open area draws students into the space with various zones for gathering and reading as well as providing space for media production.
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.