A district-wide initiative to update every school’s library (now called Innovation Centers) into bright, engaging, and collaborative learning environments for students, staff, and community members drove the renovations at this suburban middle school. The dark, underutilized space did not support the district’s forward-thinking curriculum, so ARCON was challenged to push the envelope and create an environment that captured the district’s goals.
The Innovation Center is zoned into ten unique spaces: a collaboration lounge, critical thinking lounge, presentation area, large group seating area, think tank, small group lounge and genius bar. In lieu of a traditional circulation desk, a genius bar promotes self-directed assistance.
The new (11’-4”w x 60’l) skylight in the Innovation Center provides natural light to all spaces, decreasing the utilization of artificial light. Where artificial lighting was necessary, LED fixtures were used to provide an efficient lighting source. Motion sensors have been installed in classrooms to allow a further reduction in the use of artificial lighting when a space is not being utilized. Not only did removing the traditional ceiling, and exposing the structure provide height and openness, but color-coded conduit created a learning opportunity for students to understand how an HVAC system operates. New drop-ceilings, floating clouds, baffles, and acoustical panels were carefully placed in order to provide areas of “shelter” for students, as well as provide an ideal sound quality for the learning environment. Selective use of color on the walls, ceiling, finishes, and furniture, helped create a bright, inviting, and inspiring environment. The furniture offers a variety of work environments to cater toward individual or group learning, while providing flexibility that coincides with the curriculum that drove the design of the space.