September 27, 2018
The American Institute of Architects is developing a series of initiatives that will use the “power of design” to create safer environments for children.
TURNERBATSON is working at the local level every day to provide safe and dynamic learning environments in school design. In early 2017 Ardent Preschool and Daycare turned to Murray Building Company and TURNERBATSON to revamp their building program. Although Ardent had built numerous structures to date, the process and the product were in need of an update. John LaBreche, CEO of Ardent Preschool and Daycare, asked TURNERBATSON to “make the magic happen.”
School Safety and good design are not mutually exclusive.
School security at Ardent Greystone is carefully managed from the property line to the classroom. The perimeter of the campus is established by security fencing and a hedge row. The child drop-off sequence starts from a single parking lot with clear site lines from the front office, through the main entry (an access-controlled door), to a computerized (fingerprint reading) computer, and finally to the classroom where the child is received by the teacher.
From a programmatic standpoint, Ardent Greystone is a large building with 18 classrooms. The notion of an “infant courtyard” was adopted early on. Conceptually, the most vulnerable of the students are located at the most protected location on the campus.
Sunshine is the best disinfectant.
Not only does sunshine promote an improved learning environment, it also discourages criminal activity.
Natural daylight improves the learning environment. A 1999 study by the Heschong Mahone Group concluded that a 25 percent improvement in test scores occurred in naturally lit environments. Experts believe that natural light improves mood, mental alertness, and vision. In addition, studies suggest that students in naturally lit classrooms had health advantages over those students in artificially lit classrooms.
It was once believed that large windows would be distracting to students. Decades ago architects were reducing the size of windows. We now see that large windows and natural light enhance a student’s ability to focus and that they are in fact less distracted from their work.
Ardent Greystone is designed so that every classroom has natural light through windows, doors, and sidelights. Interior windows are designed to “share” this light between classrooms and the interior corridor. These windows are carefully aligned to enhance sight lines from one classroom to another. This allows teachers improved visibility to support adjacent classes and playground activities. Blind spots are minimized.
This increased visibility allows staff to identify a threat and respond accordingly. Teachers are armed with wireless fobs that will activate a panic alarm system. In addition to enhanced natural surveillance, the school is fitted with an extensive CCTV system.
Creating warm environments through interior design.
The campus presents a warm, colorful, light-filled environment. The building design hinges on a center spline consisting of the Entry, Welcome Center, Infant Courtyard, Porch Lobby, and Back Porch.
This center spline embraces the end user from the covered canopy entrance, through the vaulted ceiling of the Welcome Center, through the Infant Courtyard, which is open to the sky, through the Porch Lobby and Back Porch (both of which have vaulted ceilings) and finally exit doors leading to a secure sports field. This sequence is enhanced by the floor pattern depicting a natural path through these spaces.
The “magic” is happening at Ardent. Parents are choosing to send their children to Ardent Preschool and Daycare, Greystone, based in part on its warm, friendly and safe environment. We are thrilled to be a part of the legacy, and we are proud that our team is presently working on the design of the next Ardent location!
September 27, 2018