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  7. Rockford Public School / CannonDesign

Rockford Public School / CannonDesign

  • 17:00 - 7 June, 2019
  • Curated by Paula Pintos
Rockford Public School / CannonDesign
Rockford Public School / CannonDesign	, © Robert Benson
© Robert Benson

© Robert Benson © Robert Benson © Robert Benson © Robert Benson + 31

    • Mechanical Engineering

      Keith Hammelman, Javier Madrigal
    • Electrical Engineering

      John Economou, Kassam Masters, Sarah Bower
    • Lighting Design

      Raisa Shigol
    • Plumbing/Fire Protection

      Andrew Grabowski
    • Structural Design

      Justin Holmes
    • Cost Estimating

      Mike Hepp, Bill Grill, Gerry Horner, Bryan Knapp
    • Additional Architecture Team Members

      Geoff Walters, Ronald Harrison, Marion Lawson, Keri VanSant, Mary Cavanaugh, Sanja Kuntz, Raquel Morales, Nicole Wiznitzer, Christopher Defosset
    • Additional Engineering Team Members

      Pedro Tenorio, Tasnim Tanveer
    • More Specs Less Specs
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson

    Text description provided by the architects. Children are a segment of the population with essentially zero political power. Any power they do hold is by proxy. The process and resulting solution for Rockford Public Schools’ new K-5 prototype school pivots this dynamic, designing with students rather than for them. This architecture is community. During discovery meetings with the school principal, the design team learned the district holds “morning briefings” with their students, many of whom have disadvantageous, difficult and even traumatic home lives. The briefings are designed to help students release any negative energy they may hold, so they can best take in new information and collaborate with peers throughout the day.

    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson

    Recognizing the importance of these “morning briefings” with students, our team identified a need for more programmatic space to ensure they could occur and students could best thrive. Balancing budget and space constraints, the design team in collaboration with Rockford 4th grade students designed a covered town hall at the center of the building. The town hall unites the school’s gymnasium, cafeteria, art spaces, library and other public spaces while providing a home for the briefings.

    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    Plan
    Plan
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson

    The central town hall is surrounded by grade-level learning communities specifically designed to the needs of the distinct age groupings: kindergarten, first and second, third and fourth and fifth grades. As a result of engaging students in the design process, the school moves away from traditional features - such as long corridors and fixed, immovable classroom objects that inhibit interaction and skill development - to embrace a more open village design concept. This concept creates hubs for connection throughout the building and enhances a sense of community. In the case of the Rockford K-5 prototype school, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson

    The architecture engages children directly, at once both stimulating and educational. It inherently responds to the reality that entering kindergarten - in this case an 86,000 SF building - can be a remarkably difficult transition and intimidating experience. Influenced by the drawings of children, the design team created unique kindergarten spaces that are visible from the street to help eliminate any intimidation. Each space has unique geometric windows with different colors that break the scale of the school down to the one room schoolhouse, allowing kindergarten students to understand their space in the larger community.

    © Christopher Barrett
    © Christopher Barrett
    Diagram 01
    Diagram 01
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson

    The windows, installed near floor level, are irresistible to the kindergartners, beckoning them to engage with the world around them. This geometric strategy extends to other spaces throughout the building where students learn while playing. With integrated furniture, the students learn mass and void relationships in the physical world. This spatial reasoning is essential for their development. In the learning communities, the soft, moveable furniture is designed to be pushed, pulled, and repositioned any way the students desire. Their collaboration, community, and experience is remade by them each day.

    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson
    © Robert Benson

    Finally, the architecture of the whole is designed to reflect the larger community of Rockford, Illinois. Drawing on the community’s agrarian and industrial roots, the 86,000-sf facility is broken down into smaller, identifiable masses, reflecting the student’s understanding of architecture and place. Looking at both the macro (history, community, culture) and the micro (postures, cognitive development, learning styles) the design team synthesized a new prototype for both the students and the community.

    © Christopher Barrett
    © Christopher Barrett

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    About this office
    Cite: "Rockford Public School / CannonDesign " 07 Jun 2019. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/917639/rockford-public-school-cannondesign/> ISSN 0719-8884

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