After years of delays, the U.S. Department of Defense is moving forward with construction of a new Kaiserslautern High School in Germany.
Stars and Stripes reports that the $74 million campus, scheduled to open in 2018 in Kaiserslautern, Germany, will replace a school campus housed partly in a converted World War II-era hospital.
Officials say the new Kaiserslautern High will be unlike any school constructed for military family members living overseas. it's part of a push by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) to transform schools into 21st-century learning spaces.
Instead of a facility with long, narrow hallways lined with classrooms on both sides, the design of the new Kaiserslautern is modeled on a hand. The palm is the central commons area that also will function as a cafeteria and auditorium. Four fingers of instructional wings fan out from the center, and the gym is positioned as the thumb. A separate music room also will be part of the new campus.
Instructional areas will be more open, with a combination of fixed walls and moveable partitions that can be adjusted for different group sizes. Teachers will move around instead of remaining in the same classroom for the school year. Hard-wired and wireless infrastructure will be placed throughout the school.
“We’re trying to design facilities that are flexible and adaptable,” says Jose Tovar, chief of DODEA-Europe facilities.
The new Kaiserslautern High School is part of massive DODEA construction effort in Europe. The school system plans to build 28 replacement schools in Europe, in addition to five facilities that have opened since 2010. The estimated price tag for planned school construction through fiscal 2021 is about $1.7 billion, DODEA officials say.
DODEA plans to improve and modernize about 70 percent of its campuses around the world. A 2008 report to Congress in 2008 on the condition of DODEA facilities prompted the revitalization effort.
Congress had approved rebuilding plans for Kaiserslautern High in 2010, but before construction commenced, DODEA revised its design standards in an effort to create facilities that provide a better learning environment for 21st-century students. The project was put on hold while designers drew up plans with adaptable and flexible instructional spaces that can accommodate multiple learning styles.