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. 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.
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