High Performance Schools
Philosophy and Qualifications for Planning and Design Services, Fielding/Nair International
Before beginning design, it's important to understand the people using the building, the community, and the educational outcomes desired. Ideas come from all types of stakeholders, including maintenance personnel, administrators, neighbors, parents, grandparents, business partners, teachers and students. During the early stages, the number of variable involved in planning can seem overwhelming; the best response to complexity overload was offered by a student in two sentences: "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!"
Shown above, "Circle Talk" at Avalon High School details
closely with school leaders and teachers
The highest performing schools evolve with great leadership. Harbor City School was the brain-child of lead-teacher Chris Hazleton, shown at left as he explains his vision of project-based learning. Fielding took this picture after a visit to another innovative school; field trips are a good way to generate discussion about design concepts. details
A fluid connection between inside and outside space is characteristic of high performance schools. Thoughtful design of outdoor space can make it an integral part of the learning environment. The plan for Willow River School (right), illustrates terracing of a steeply sloped courtyard. Terraces shown just above and below the waterfall accommodate small groups of learners.
Elementary, Fielding, 2001, details
our neighbors (and passing the bond referendum!)
Willow River is located in a city neighborhood in Hudson, Wisconsin, where parking and play space are at a premium. Before passing a bond referendum to redesign the site and school, a street-friendly rendition of the new outdoor court and play space was important.
The view at left illustrates a new way of thinking about the site. The original courtyard was sealed off and unavailable to students or the public. The new design turns the building inside out, and involves tearing out a corner of the original structure to create a new main entrance from the courtyard.