Another school year has begun for students in most districts and campuses across the country, and the construction, maintenance projects and other cleanup that happens over the summer break hopefully is finished—but often the work encounters delays that leave people sweating the deadline and working up to the wire.
For some institutions, the summer just wasn’t long enough. For instance, the grounds of a middle school in my neighborhood is still busy with construction crews and large equipment—a reminder that some projects just can’t stay on schedule. The project, which includes a new multipurpose room, kitchen, orchestra room and gym is scheduled for completion in December. This may make some parents uneasy, but the students don’t seem to mind. They just want to be inspired by what happens inside the classroom.
"Inspiration" was a hot topic in this year’s Educational Interiors Showcase judging discussions. Our jury began by discussing school designs that inspire students to learn, and it was a key component as they chose this year’s main winners and citations.
Arguably one of the most inspirational school design projects—which earned a Special Citation this year—was Joplin Interim High School, Joplin, Mo. This inspiring school was adapted from an abandoned big-box retail space and became a rallying point for the community, which was devastated in May 2011 by one of the deadliest and most destructive tornadoes this nation has seen.
This year’s Crow Island School Citation-winning facility, Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy in Dallas, is tailored to students who will be first-generation college-goers. The jury called its unique spaces "inspiring, flexible and collaborative."
Miami University’s Upham Hall Microscopy Lab was this year’s Collegiate Citation winner. What could have been a common, stark laboratory space is "exciting, inviting and transcending," acccording to the jury.
Hopefully, as you review this year's Educational Interiors Showcase, you will be proud of your own spaces, or find cost-effective ways to create inspiration within your district or campus with its available resources.
Lustig is executive editor of AS&U.