As a parent, relative, teacher, faculty member, etc., there is one thing you all probably have in common. That is, the desire for your children or the children that you teach to perform well.
Student achievement is often purely looked at from the perspective of the strength of the curriculum or the quality of the teachers. While these things are all vital to the success of their achievement, there is another factor that has been overlooked in the past, but has been given more attention in recent years.
The sustainability of the actual school building.
Over the last few years, there have been a number of studies showing a direct correlation between school facility conditions and student performance. They all conclude that, a greener learning environment does impact a student’s ability to perform well. While having a healthy learning environment may seem intuitive, many of us might not understand just how exactly a greener environment impacts a student’s performance.
Just What Is A Green School?
A Green or High Performing School can be characterized by many things. They help conserve resources through energy efficiency, lowering utility costs, and reducing waste. In addition, they provide things like clean air, natural light, an environment free of toxic materials and chemicals, and much more.
Read more about characteristics of a green school here:
How Green Schools Help Academic Performance:
The Center for Green Schools has rounded up 4 ways in which green schools contribute to learning.
ATI’s Focus on Greener Schools:
ATI strives for sustainable and energy efficient design in its efforts to minimize the impact of the built environment on natural resources, acknowledging the increasing need to become more sensitive to preserving our natural resources and the environment. Our on-going involvement with governmental funded projects has mandated the incorporation of green building design.
Beginning with its own staff, ATI has been a proponent of Green Building Design. ATI sponsors staff to obtain LEED Certification and Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) Training.
Re-use Design/Emily™ :
Over the years, ATI listened carefully to our clients and as a result, embarked on a long term initiative to provide a high value classroom package solution. Unlike modulars and portables, ATI has created classroom design packages and processed them for approval by DSA as PC’s. These designs have been branded Emily™. The Emily™ product line now boasts various single-story and two-story classroom designs including standard single wing, various sized back-to-back classroom wings, and two-story classrooms containing a combination of up to 10 standard 960 sf or a combination of 960/1,350 sf classrooms. Our designs allow for integrated bathroom and storage facilities and they have been configured for administrative spaces, libraries, technology centers and a host of other program uses. Emily™ buildings utilize both passive and active energy conservation technologies as well as the most current thinking in sustainable design. If you are interested in learning more about Emily, go to www.emilyreusedesign.com
Here are just some of ATI’s CHPS Certified School Projects:
Pittsburg USD, Martin Luther King, Jr., Junior High School: CHPS Verified 26 Points
New Haven USD, Conley-Caraballo High School: CHPS Verified 42 Points
Roseville JUHSD, Adelante High School: CHPS Designed 26 Points
San Bernardino City USD, Little Mountain Elementary School: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 30 Points
San Bernardino City USD, Middle College High School: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 30 Points
Windsor USD, Windsor High School CTE Bldg: CHPS Funded/CHPS Designed 38 Points
Black Oak Mine USD, Golden Sierra High School: CHPS Designed 26 Points
Piedmont USD, Havens Elementary School: CHPS Designed 20 Points
There are many positive outcomes to a greener, more sustainable learning environment. At ATI, we have made sustainability a priority by creating designs that meet the needs of this generation without compromising the needs of generations to come.
When designing structures for school districts, there are many questions that come up: Is the design functional? Does it meet District and State specifications? Is it within budget? Will it be completed on time?
But one question that many don’t think to ask is, “Does the design enhance the security or protection of students and teachers?”
It is important for school district administrators to be addressing student and teacher security needs during the design phase of any building project. The first step of doing this is to carry out a security assessment that identifies risks and vulnerabilities. It is important to then use this information to develop a building design that helps to mitigate potential threats.
“Our security design model is risk driven which allows district administrators the ability to review district standards against emerging trends and technology innovation” said Phillip Caires, Director of Special Projects. “With an over-arching architectural security framework as the goal”.
A comprehensive security assessment should include an evaluation of how well the school is able to deter, detect, delay and respond to a security or safety threat. It is important to analyze the day-to-day operational flow of students, faculty, staff and visitors into and through the school to determine where entry points are in the morning, where entry points for visitors and parents are during the instructional day, and where exit points are at the close of the day.
Additionally, the analysis should identify the specific flow of students and teachers to the playground at recess, and if there are modular classrooms or detached buildings, the pathway and doors out of the main school building into the portable/detached building area.
“Operational security is a design level function that focuses on alignment and monitoring which are the key drivers when establishing the most effective implementation elements,” said Caires.
The following is a list of general security and safety items that ATI implements into their designs. These elements should be considered for any school district design.
|Public Entrances to Site||Access to Drainage and Services|
|Boundary Treatment||Site and Buildings Layout|
|Signs||Access to Roof Top Areas|
|Vehicular Access||Use of Lockers|
|Pedestrian Access||Chemical Storage|
|Parking for Cars, Motorcycles & Bicycles||Way Finding|
|CCTV Systems||Consideration of “After Hour” Use of Some Campus Areas|
Buildings Shell Security
|Windows Perimeter Doors||Avoidance of Alcoves and Wall Recesses|
Buildings Internal Layout
|School Entrance and Visitor Control||Corridors and Circulation Areas|
|Reception Area||General Office Security|
Implemented by the District with Input by ATI
|Records||Surveillance (CCTV and Patrols)|
|Policy Statement||Property Marking|
|Staff Training||Crime Log and Police Contact|
|Secure Areas||Cleaning and Repair|
Ever since the Brooks Elementary School opened in 1988, the community continued to grow and many new subdivisions were added around the school to form the newly incorporated community of Windsor township. Brooks Elementary School currently serves 460 4th and 5th graders. 
ATI Architects and Engineers were selected to design a new 2-story EmilyTM classroom building and a library on campus. After 27 years, this is the first time Brooks Elementary school will have a major new construction project on the campus. The 2-story building, which contains 10 classrooms, will replace some of the existing portables. The need for advanced technology at Brooks Elementary School has grown at a rapid rate. The new classrooms are designed to Classrooms of the 21st Century standards. Students and teachers will have the technology and flexibility needed to enhance learning.
“The building will be very prominent on the campus. The location of the building facing the courtyard will enhance the schools overall physical environment. The new classrooms and library will be an uplifting learning space for students and teachers alike.” said Rup Chand, Principal and Project Manager.
The environment of classroom learning is shifting as technology is now the equivalent of a #2 pencil. Districts, schools, and teachers are learning new methods to support a 21st Century Learning environment through digital learning. With the world literally at student’s fingertips, these new 21st Century learners need quick access to information and are capable of learning at a whole new level with a constantly evolving array of technological tools and activities.
Far more important is the educator’s role in employing material that is accessible and engaging in a technology-infused learning environment. The outcome of this transformation means fusing the traditional three R’s (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) with the four C’s (Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration). These 21st Century skills are now a requirement in the classrooms in order to prepare students for this progressing globalized workforce.
We recently asked our Associates to define and describe a 21st Century Learning Classroom from their own perspectives.
“How do you define 21st Century Learning?”
Associate, Project Manager
“21st Century Learning uses technology to offer a variety of learning experiences for students. It’s no longer about a teacher lecturing to a class. It’s about students working in small groups to solve problems together, working on projects from different vantage points to see patterns in the world, mixing student ages so that older kids can teach younger kids and in the process expand their own learning. Using technology to enhance learning, whether it’s researching a topic on the Internet, using virtual reality to explore a molecule’s structure, or teleconferencing with students their own age across the world. 21st Century Learning expands the learning possibilities beyond the four walls of the classroom.”
“List adjectives that describe a 21st Century Classroom.”
Anna Win, AIA, LEED AP
Associate, Senior Project Manager
“Mobility, flexibility, scalability → enduring use, longevity and relevance
Indoor/outdoor connectivity → learning environment without prescribed physical boundaries
Team-oriented, project-based → social, hands-on learning”
No longer does learning have to be teacher-centered, one-way, one-size-fits-all. More schools are transfiguring their classrooms into a very exciting environment. Classrooms are no longer that quiet classroom, but rather a class that is vibrant, vocal, and where children are talking, collaborating, and helping one another. 21st Century Learning involves more than just the use of technology, but students using technology to achieve goals in a different way than what was possible before.
ATI Facebook Page:
Let’s go back to the beginning; all the way back to our first Emily™ classroom…
It was back in 2003 when ATI first designed Emily™. Mount Diablo USD had a need to replace old classroom buildings and expand their school sites. We not only wanted to win this project but we wanted to create a design that would become a learning environment of the future. We envisioned these classrooms being built at every school district.
In our mind, the classroom of the future had to be adaptable to various educational specifications. It needed to have a fast construction schedule. It needed to be permanent construction and built on-site, opposed to portable or modular construction.
And so the process began… It began with thinking about the learning environment and of those who would use them. We sought guidance from students, teachers, administrators, contractors, vendors, and facilities personnel. We asked them what they needed, what was important in their classroom, and what they wished for the future.
Then with time, what began life as Abigail shaped into Beatrice and finally came to full fruition as Emily™…These classroom buildings can be found throughout the Mt. Diablo USD as well as throughout the State of California. Today, over 1,000 Emily™ classrooms have been built and we thank all of our School District clients for challenging us to not only just design, but to develop a classroom of the future.
If your school is thinking about expanding or rebuilding, we encourage you to meet Emily™. We think you’ll agree that her performance earns an A+.
ATI is currently Reusing the Gymnasium/MPR design from Martin Luther King, Jr., Junior High School for the Willow Cove Elementary School Modernization Project.
Reusing a previously approved design offers tremendous advantages over an original design when cost and schedule are major project considerations. In regard to schedule, previously approved DSA construction documents have a shorter bin time when resubmitted for a new project.
When considering costs, typically there are savings in both construction and design fees as previous construction revisions have been incorporated into the construction documents and to a large degree, the design is finished.
In the case of Willow Cove, in addition to schedule and cost, there was another benefit to the District in that desired program changes were easier to develop as we were working from a base design.
Those changes involved replacing the locker rooms from the previous design with a kitchen. While these changes proposed a challenge for our Engineering Department, they were overcome with innovative, quick solutions and allowed us to complete the design of the 14,000 sf building and submit to DSA within 5 weeks.
5 weeks from beginning of design to DSA submittal on a 14,000 sf building? Yeah, that’s fast!
As for the structural revisions, MLK’s MPR building had symmetrical two bays of cross bracing that support and provide lateral resistance to earthquakes. However, for Willow Cove’s MPR building one of these in particular could not be designed because of the access into the new Kitchen area. ATI’s Architects and Structural Engineers worked together to find an additional location for bracing along the wall.
ATI’s Structural Engineers also developed a creative solution that resulted in more storage room under the stage. In order to do this, fire protection had to be provided to the supporting walls underneath the stage. Fire protection is typically achieved by nailing gypsum boards to the wood framing. However, DSA requires plywood, in addition to the gypsum board for shear resistance, which would result in less storage space. ATI’s Structural Engineers recommended Sure-Board, a steel sheet and gypsum board composite, that meets the DSA required shear value and maximizes the amount of storage space for the School District.
In the end, ATI met the Districts goal of getting into DSA fast, setting the stage for the new/reuse building to open August 2016.
San Marcos USD hired ATI to expand San Marcos Elementary School by adding on four EmilyTM Classroom Buildings. The EmilyTM Classrooms provided the District with a fast solution to their overcrowding problem. The prototypical classrooms are 960 sf each, DSA Pre-Checked, and feature a metal roof and block veneer wainscot to tie the existing buildings on campus.
Check out the short clip below featuring this project.
Do you remember as a kid asking your teacher, “Can we have class outside today?! Pleaaaaassseeee?!!” It was so rewarding to be outside breathing in fresh air while learning the Capitals of the 50 States. In California where the weather is nice 99.9% of the time, I wonder why there aren’t more outdoor classrooms.
There are so many benefits of using the outdoors as your classroom. I recently read an article that reports a study done by the U.K.’s King’s College London that proposes teaching outdoors makes educators more confident and enthusiastic about their work, and more innovative in their teaching strategies. Other studies have showed that time outdoors helps students succeed in school by improving their memory, problem solving, and creativity. Being outside reinvigorates both students and teachers.
So, why am I blogging about learning in the outside environment? Well, if you recall from previous blogs ATI won a design competition for the San Juan Unified School District’s Winston Churchill Middle School Project. This is a 21st Century Learning School and, in addition to creating indoor flexible learning environments, our design for this campus expansion includes outdoor learning. Our creative Architects focused on bringing the inside learning environment to the outdoors.
There are concrete seats at the existing site and more will be added to provide additional outdoor learning spaces. The new Classroom Buildings will be jogged with alcoves, offering space for teachers to take students outside. Not only will this re-energize students and teachers, it also offers more space, flexibility, and small group learning.
Taking the Inside Out classroom approach will be the next development in California Schools. Your students and teachers deserve the best learning environments which nature can provide. As your School District grows and the need for more flexible learning environments evolves, consider the outdoor learning environment as a solution. It will enhance academic achievement when combined with the holistic elements of the evolving 21st Century Learning environment.
David Suzuki, Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the complexities of the natural sciences in a compelling, easily understood way. For more information on the David Suzuki Foundation, visit www.davidsuzuki.org.
To a play along with social media’s favorite hashtag #tbt, ATI has decided to look back at previous projects.
Today’s Throwback Thursday project is Adelante High School Emily™ Classrooms. Adelante High School started as little more than a single classroom housing 8 students and 1 instructor when it was established in 1965 at the Roseville City District’s Atlantic Street School. While working with the District, ATI developed a Master Plan that included partial modernization of the existing campus and portable replacements that were desperately needed. Emily™ was chosen as the best option to replace the portables and in the end six (6) classrooms and two (2) Administrative Offices/Classroom spaces were completed in 2007. This school received a 2008 Leroy F. Greene / A.I.A. Design Award of Merit. The photo shows a before and after comparison of the school.
The Emily™ classrooms designs have been built over a 1,000 times throughout the State of California. Emily™ classrooms are permanent construction which makes these designs the best solution to aging portables. We believe that Emily™ provides the learning environment that our students and teachers deserve.
Do you remember having classes in portable buildings?