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LEARN Charter School Network and America’s Schoolhouse Council envision new educational campus

Seven LEARN leaders, four firms, nine architects, two construction managers, 36 hours, countless ideas

[Chicago, IL] – LEARN Charter School Network has developed a reputation for equipping elementary school children in low-income Chicago-area communities with a college preparatory education. America’s Schoolhouse Council (ASC) members from around the country got together to help LEARN generate ideas for converting a vacant warehouse in Chicago’s Garfield Park neighborhood into its newest campus.

Kingscott Associates (Kalamazoo, MI), Legat Architects (Chicago, IL), MOA Architecture (Denver, CO), and Tate Snyder Kimsey (Las Vegas, NV) collaborated in a design charrette with LEARN representatives. G3 Construction Group also joined the charrette.

Jason Lembke, Director of K-12 Education at Legat Architects, said, “This was a great opportunity to mesh a proven, high-performing educational model into a neighborhood filled with artists and musicians. We wanted to have a diversity of perspectives at the table, and the expertise of America’s Schoolhouse Council fit the bill.”

The two-day intensive design charrette started with a site visit. Team members then discussed LEARN’s vision for the facility. The group split into two teams, each of which had a different design objective. The teams reassembled, shared their sketches and plans, and refined the concepts. Designers then created computer-generated renderings that were further refined the next day.

Gregory White, President & CEO of LEARN Charter School Network, said, “This process enabled us to envision several strong options for creating a community-focused learning environment that supports our high expectations for student achievement.”

Click here to see some of the ideas that emerged during the LEARN planning sessions.


The STEM of Tomorrow’s Learning Setting

America’s Schoolhouse Council, UNLV, and VS America Bring “High School Classroom 2021” to Music City

[Nashville, TN] – When Dr. David Ufnar’s Engineering 1 students went to the Gaylord Operyland Resort & Convention Center, they discovered a portal to tomorrow’s high school classroom. Class was held in a conference room converted into “High School Classroom 2021.”

The layout, technologies, and furnishings of the inquiry-based learning setting encouraged students to collaborate, experiment, and explore everything from guitar-making as part of Nashville’s musical heritage to the social and environmental issues related to the kelp forests of Monterey Bay.

America’s Schoolhouse Council (ASC), the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and VS America, Inc. joined forces to create a classroom for the Council of Educational Facility Planners International’s (CEFPI) “Classroom of 2021” competition. “High School Classroom 2021” was one of three submissions selected for display at CEFPI’s 88th Annual World Conference and Expo.

The class that test-drove the mock-up classroom hails from the Stratford STEM Magnet High School in east Nashville. The recipient of a “Race to the Top” grant, Stratford has emerged as a hub for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in Tennessee.

When Academia Meets Industry
Kevin Kemner, Assistant Professor and Education Facilities Research & Design Studies Coordinator at the UNLV School of Architecture, says, “‘High School Classroom 2021’ exemplifies the advancement that occurs when academia and industry join forces.”

Working with Knoxville-based Michael Brady, Inc., the partners presented the “High School Classroom 2021” concept to Vicki Metzgar, director of STEM initiatives for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools and Michael Steele, principal of Stratford. Leaders determined to make the most of the mock-up classroom by holding class in it during the conference.

The layout featured five zones that supported curricular collaboration and inquiry-based learning. Retractable walls, mobile labs, and flexible furniture allowed students to group, ungroup, and regroup at a moment’s notice.

Other leading school contributing organizations that donated services and materials to the classroom include Cisco Systems, Sheldon Laboratory Systems, and Tandus Flooring.

If These Walls Could Talk
“Tomorrow’s high school classroom is a transparent, technology-rich environment that promotes flexibility and encourages student collaboration,” says PBK’s Irene Nigaglioni, who coordinated the effort for ASC. “‘High School Classroom 2021’ incorporates the added benefit of linking students with local and global communities.”

UNLV’s School of Architecture and College of Education played a pivotal role in achieving those connections through the conceptualization, material development, and construction of the classroom. For instance, students and faculty imagined glass walls embedded with technology. Eight-foot-high walls surrounding the space represented multi-media touch screens that doubled as windows with views to nature.

Content on the walls represented the connections at the core of the future classroom:

• Local heritage: A section on guitar making and guitar culture encouraged students to explore Nashville’s musical roots.
• Community partnerships: A section on anatomy supported a partnership with Vanderbilt University, whose students teach at Stratford STEM Magnet High School.
• National social/environmental issues: A section on the kelp forests of Monterey Bay merged biology, environmental concerns, and even kelp art.
• Technology and planetology: A section that discussed NASA’s Juno spacecraft and its exploration of Jupiter.

A Concept Rooted in Research
The CEFPI ‘Classroom of 2021’ competition proved to be fertile ground to bring together UNLV’s ongoing research, ASC’s Flip This Classroom student performance research program, and lessons learned from Legat Architects’ award-winning STEM labs at Niles North and West High Schools.”

“Tomorrow’s high school learning setting is a studio built on and devoted to research,” says Jason Lembke, ASC member and director of K-12 Education at Legat Architects. “It bridges technologies, curricula, and communities, and supports exploration through group activity, peer review, and real-time mentoring from business and higher education partnerships.”


Kingscott Presents School District with $53,000 for Energy Efficiency

Kingscott Associates presented a check for $53,000 to Gull Lake Community Schools at their September Board Meeting. As Architects and Engineers for the new Gull Lake High School, Kingscott qualified for the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) tax credits.

Kingscott’s sustainable design of the building’s envelope and mechanical and lighting systems exceeds code minimum efficiencies by more than 50%. The school district and the community made efficient, economical design a priority, and Kingscott wanted to share with them the benefit of implementing an energy-saving design.

Brendon Pollard, AIA, Principal, and Susan Einspahr, Chairman of the Board and Senior Principal present a check for $53,000 to the Chris Rundle, Superintendent of Gull Lake Community Schools at the Board of Education meeting September 19, 2011

Tate Snyder Kimsey joins ASC

ASC is pleased to announce that Tate Snyder Kimsey, with offices in Las Vegas, Reno,  Los Angeles, and Chengdu, China has joined America’s Schoolhouse Council.


ASC welcomes MOA Architecture

ASC welcomes MOA Architecture into it’s family of firms. MOA is a a full-service architectural firm specializing in K-12 and higher education projects. A Native American- and veteran-owned firm, MOA is committed to excellence in all aspects of architecture: design, technical execution, and project delivery.  MOA has offices in Denver, CO and Casper, WY.


Kingscott Gallery displays STEM and Collaborative Communities

In January 2011 Kingscott’s Kalamazoo lobby gallery will feature a display on inquiry-based instructional spaces. The display grew out of the explorations invited by ASC and VS America (an educational furniture designer and manufacturer).

The group’s goal was to explore a practical approach to inquiry-based learning spaces such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) facilities. The methodology will help school districts understand and implement these new and exciting learning spaces. The team has documented their planning ideas and shared them in a publication, Insights 2.

Th display coincides with the Michigan Association of School Administrators conference held in Kalamazoo. The display will run during January 2011. Educators, students, and the public are welcome to drop in during regular business hours or contact Kingscott at 269.381.4880 to schedule a tour.