The design of a school plays an important role in supporting students as they begin their journey as life-long learners. Today’s learning environments must provide for differentiated instruction, curriculum innovation, and changes in pedagogy. Together with school districts and stakeholders, we will make smart decisions about how your building is configured, identify appropriate program adjacencies, and recommend furnishings, technologies, and building systems. We design modern classrooms, large and small group break out areas, one-on-one teaching spaces, and systems to enable remote learning. All the while keeping the needs of students, teachers, and administrators at the forefront.
Successful projects are those that find the right balance between requirements and aspirations. To achieve this, our approach includes ongoing communication with stakeholders to understand a community’s specific educational goals and the role the school will play for families and other residents, creating a shared vision for the project. Transparent, frequent, and respectful communication enables stakeholders to feel “heard,” helping to build consensus.
Delivering value has been central to RDA’s design philosophy and a great point of pride for us. Our design solutions consider not only the up-front capital costs of a project but also future operational needs and maintenance requirements. Our goal, always, is to deliver an inspiring level of design without extraordinary cost. We always design with a “50+-year building” mindset, focusing on durability, sustainability, and flexibility. Please see our case studies for additional information about some of our achievements related to schedule and budget discipline.
The process of determining whether or not to invest in a new/renovated school can lead to a broader review of the community’s entire preK-12 system. Are there advantages to consolidating? Does a grade reconfiguration make sense? We know these can be sensitive conversations. RDA has the expertise and wisdom to navigate this process with residents and families in a way that makes these conversations productive and supportive.
RDA assisted the Town of Bridgewater in programming not only its PK-3 Mitchell Elementary School, going the extra mile to assess its other Grade 4-6 intermediate school and its Grade 7-8 middle school. The District was ultimately able to make use of available space in its two other schools in order to reconfigure their schools from PK-3/4-6/7-8 to PK-2/3-5/6-8. This substantially reduced the square footage of the project we had been hired to implement, and saved the Town millions in design, construction, and future operational costs.
We believe learning happens everywhere, and that the site surrounding a school can and should serve students and residents in many ways. Outdoor spaces must be organized for independence, easy use, and learning. Paths, walkways, and stairs should be clearly marked and free of obstructions, and outdoor areas must provide for both active play and quiet activities, with the needs of all students kept top of mind.
Our job, as we see it, is to engage with your community and earn their trust. That process begins at the start of the feasibility study and continues through the public vote, and, ultimately, the design of the project. One of the key tasks of the Feasibility phase is to objectively evaluate options in terms of their long-range viability and gauge the support each option has within the community. Critical to gaining approval is ongoing, clear communication. Community meetings can facilitate the process of gaining insight around expectations and priorities, serve as an update on the progress of the work, and support a feedback loop that can help build positive momentum with taxpayers.