Learning Facility Addresses Changing Needs in New Albany-Plain Local Schools
A new learning facility for grades first through eighth is providing New Albany-Plain Local Schools with both the space and flexibility needed for a growing, 21st-century.
The new 150,000 sq. ft. learning center, which opened one of four learning quadrants in August 2014, hosted a Community Open House on Saturday, May 16, in connection with the city’s Founders Day Celebration. The entire building will open for the 2015-16 school year with all four quadrants serving select learning communities.
The learning facility essentially completes the district’s master plan. Designed in answer to steady enrollment growth and innovative educational approaches, it accommodates the district’s migration and mission toward more self-directed learning and provides flexibility in spaces allowing teachers and students the opportunity to make choices based on each unique learning situation.
Extensive public input went into the design, including meetings with students, school board members and teachers resulting in a very collaborative, unique space.
The facility includes a common area for large-group activities, teaching studios and small-group collaboration rooms, presentation labs and even a performance stage.
Throughout the building, movable walls, some doubling as magnetic white boards, allow the flexible configuration of learning studios to range from 650 to 4000 sq. ft. STEM labs and 850 to 3,300 sq. ft. classrooms. Collaboration rooms for group projects can be configured for eight or fewer students, and nearly all furnishings are flexible and movable, so the learning spaces can be configured to changing needs.
A central academic core on each of the building’s two levels anchors each learning community.
Besides flexibility between learning studio and the common area, the learning facility includes access to outdoor spaces from each ground floor classroom, using garage-type doors opening onto first floor porches and other exterior learning spaces.
Second floor common areas provide access to two green roofs, where students can grow their own plants for classroom activities. A greenhouse provides space for students to grow their own food to contribute to the building’s food services.
The building’s flexibility permits the district to make decisions year-by-year as to which students will use the space allowing the unique design elements to impact multiple communities.