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August 1, 2019

As classrooms evolve to meet changing needs, the furniture should too

  • Today’s collaborative environments call for desks, tables and chairs that can be moved around and used in different ways.
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    The classroom has come a long way from blackboards and chalk. The classroom today revolves around interaction, collaboration and technology.

    Workpointe takes education seriously. We were all once students and now we see our kids growing up in a completely different environment than we once learned in.

    We have the opportunity to see this change evolve and to accurately support that growing change.

    Classrooms and learning environments have evolved dramatically over the years. The classroom is more collaborative and teachers are encouraging students to work together, to learn from one another.

    This means the furniture needs to adapt and grow with new methods and styles that are happening in today’s schools. Beyond the classroom, we are also seeing a dramatic change in libraries, cafeterias and performing arts centers, just to name a few.

    Libraries or media centers are more than just a place to read or check out books. They are social gathering places for teens, tutoring, study groups, meetings and activities for children.

    Workpointe helps plan space to create a fun and exciting environment and still have flexible furniture to accommodate the needs for various functions.

    Photos courtesy of Workpointe [enlarge]
    Teachers at Overton Ray Elementary in Texas can easily rearrange the furniture to encourage student interaction.

    Photos courtesy of Workpointe [enlarge]
    The furniture has casters for ease of movement. Dry-erase desktops offer another way for students to work together.

    Case study in Texas

    Imagine an elementary school with no gym for future athletes, no stage for budding stars and inadequate classrooms for tomorrow’s leaders.

    Those are just some of the difficulties the Burkburnett Independent School District in Burkburnett, Texas, was facing when it started planning a new, 80,000 square-foot school to house all third- through fifth-grade students. The district also wanted to build a school centered around student and staff collaboration.

    To execute this project, BYSP Architects was engaged to ensure a flexible yet connected design that addressed educational, social, recreational and environmental needs. Specifically, the district wanted to expand on the concept of student-centered learning it had tried to incorporate into its existing schools.

    Touring the school was a critical part of the design phase to get a better understanding of how to approach the design.

    “These were not traditionally structured classroom settings,” said Terry Lowry, interior designer with BYSP. “The teachers and students were already accustomed to learning in a relaxed environment where students could choose their seating. We knew we wanted to provide both a plan and furniture options that allowed for a continued, modern atmosphere for learning.”

    As a result, the new Overton Ray Elementary School is one of the most flexible and fluid elementary schools in north Texas. Aside from the 24 classrooms, the campus includes a variety of collaborative spaces, three STEM labs, three collaboration stations, an amphitheater and a student lounge.

    To support continued collaboration, most of the furniture choices included casters for ease of movement. The school also chose dry-erase desktops to further promote collaborative learning opportunities for students and staff. Having ample storage in both classrooms and labs adds to the functionality.

    “The overall design represents an engaging, collaborative and flexible learning environment,” Lowry said. “Teachers have access to furniture that allows the freedom to rearrange in many different configurations for their students. They are especially pleased with the KI Ruckus chairs and KI Enlite desks because students are comfortable, relaxed and interactive while learning.”

    We love being able to collaborate on a project that can bring such a positive impact to the community.

    Matt Arnold is president of Seattle-based Workpointe.

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