Tag: Classroom Design

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.

  1. Indoor air quality: According to the Department of Education, more than 20% of public schools in the U.S. have unsatisfactory indoor air quality. Poor indoor air quality can triggersymptoms like headaches, fatigue, coughing, sneezing, asthma attacks, and much more. It can also expose students to toxic substances that may be in the air, especially in older buildings. This may inhibit a student from focusing and has the potential to get them sick. Therefore, controlling exposure to dust and pollen, improves the health of students while also reducing sick days.
  2.  Acoustics: Greener schools feature HVAC systems with appropriately placed vents, lined ductwork, and much more. These things all affect a buildings acoustics. There is a clear connection between proper acoustic design in schools and performance from students. In fact, there have been a large amount of studies that confirm just how important it is to have little background noise, especially in an educational environment (Berg et al., 1996; Crandall & Smaldino, 1995; Knecht et al., 2002).
  3.  Thermal comfort: Stuffy warm classrooms can make students restless, less interested, and less alert (Wargocki & Wyon, 2007). Greener schools have more windows and open ventilations. This provides a proper supply of air for students while also providing a comfortable indoor temperature. Therefore, an improved thermal comfort is vital to the productivity and performance of students.
  4. Daylighting: Giving access to daylight and outdoor views to buildings has been shown to heighten student participation, lessen distraction and encourage learning. Studies have shown that when deprived of natural light, children’s melatonin cycles are disrupted, thus likely having an impact on their alertness during school.

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.

Our Staff:

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.







We are pleased to share that San Juan Unified School District had its Grand Opening of the Winston Churchill Middle School Classroom Additions. ATI focused on providing a flexible learning environment and integration of technology allowing for both indoor and outdoor educational instruction. School Administrators, teachers, and students are all enjoying their 21st Century classroom learning environments.

The Grand Opening was featured on KCRA 3! Click on the link below to watch the video.

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.

School Campus

Site Layout Lighting
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
Landscaping Surveillance
CCTV Systems Consideration of “After Hour” Use of Some Campus Areas

Buildings Shell Security

Windows Perimeter Doors Avoidance of Alcoves and Wall Recesses
Roller Shutters

Buildings Internal Layout

School Entrance and Visitor Control Corridors and Circulation Areas
Reception Area General Office Security
Waiting Area Computers
WC Facilities

Implemented by the District with Input by ATI

Security Management Contractors
Records Surveillance (CCTV and Patrols)
Policy Statement Property Marking
Staff Training Crime Log and Police Contact
Secure Areas Cleaning and Repair
Visitor Control

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?”

Deborah Lesnefska
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:


For schools seeking to transform their learning spaces into an environment that meets modern expectations, Emily offers a pathway to achievable results.

ATI Helps San Juan USD with the Winston Churchill Middle School Project and Defines 21st Century Learning Environment District Standards

Everyone is talking about 21st Century Learning Environment, but do they really understand what that entails and even more importantly, how to get there? That’s what the San Juan Unified School District faced when it came time to expand the Winston Churchill Middle School and that’s where we come in. Winning a design competition, ATI brought its expertise in creating 21st Century Learning environments and creative design for the development of a state-of-the-art school. Our job is helping guide SJUSD from a wish list and a vision, into reality…

The 21st Century Learning Environment is much more then adding additional outlets, enabling Wi-Fi throughout the campus, and integrating state-of-the-art interactive technology. At its core, the learning environment touches every aspect of a school – visionary leadership, flexible learning space, instructional development and everything else in between……all necessary in achieving the desired 21st Century learning environment.

Classrooms will feature bright, open, flexible spaces with partition walls, and flexible furniture to accommodate the latest thought on the best learning environments. Partition walls will provide enough separation and flexibility for teachers to co-teach, provide hands on group learning, and expand to larger lecture spaces, if desired. The furnishings and technology will allow configurations to support creative group based learning.

Said ATI Founder and Managing Principal Paul Didonato… “the process has been an exhilarating one and we consider it a privilege to have been selected by San Juan for its undertaking and we look forward to the ribbon cutting ceremony in 2015.”