Houston Learning+ Team Design Educational Village for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD
Our Learning+ team worked alongside Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (ISD) to create a comprehensive learning environment that promotes lifelong learning. Bridgeland High School, Jim and Pam Wells Elementary School, and a future middle school are part of a multi-campus site where all schools are in close proximity to each other to create a next generation learning community, known as an educational village.
The IBI design team, consisting of Director, Mark French, and Project Manager, Laura Michela, had a vision for an educational village that went beyond just the sharing of spaces; it was the idea of a shared community that fosters joint learning opportunities, creates synergies among the students, and encourages collaboration across disciplines and grade levels. This allows advanced students to take advantage of higher level course work in the adjacent facilities and promotes mentorship-based relationships, with higher grade level students acting as mentors for their younger peers.
“The idea of an educational village is that schools can benefit from shared spaces. We had multiple discussions about what that meant during design. There can be complications in allowing grade levels to coexist unsupervised, especially with a large student population. We really had to evaluate what physical spaces could be shared and what could not, and we needed to rethink the concept of the educational village as it has been done in multiple school districts in the Houston area,” shares Project Manager, Laura Michela.
All facilities are designed with a variety of flexible classroom configurations and various collaboration and extended learning opportunities. Transparency was a definite design driver, as articulated by the client, to provide connections between various learning spaces, to create curiosity and pique the interest of learners, and to allow passive supervision of collaborative student groups which can exist outside the formal classroom environment.
IBI Group’s scope of services included planning, programming, design, interior design, construction administration and 3D visualization capabilities. Site size restraints, a pipeline that horizontally bisected the site, and identifying shared spaces proposed design challenges in locating the three campuses on the site and maintaining relationships between them.
Staff from our Houston and Portland offices worked together to develop the design of the educational village through an internal design competition. Initially, eleven designs by five different teams were submitted, which were reduced to three and presented to the school district where one was ultimately selected. The final design took elements from all three proposals to create the highly anticipated educational village.