Transparency, permeability, liveliness, flexibility—these are all hallmarks of the student commons, merging the social and academic needs of students in a non-“institutional” environment. Three primary community spaces are linked by the commons: the auditorium/theater, the gymnasium, and the library/media center (the bay windows of which make it the coolest place to be!). The commons is a bridge between the inside and outside worlds—a processional space linking main entrance and stadium, outdoor dining, and classrooms.
Designing for 1:1 Learning
The new Grafton High School represents the first major milestone in implementing the district-wide Master Plan developed by SMMA. Serving 900 students, with the design flexibility of accommodating up to 1,200, the new 187,000-square-foot Grafton High School provides advanced educational spaces developed around a forward-thinking philosophy and flexible cluster (pod) plan approach. These pods are designed and organized to reinforce the tenets of 21st century career skills: collaboration, communication, creativity critical thinking, and problem solving. The school was programmed and designed with a focus on 1:1 technology. In our design, we sought to make the learning environment and physical environment one and the same.
Classrooms support student-centric learning, utilizing four teaching walls and multiple learning zones, rather than the traditional teacher-centric, “stand-and-deliver” orientation. The classroom pods create small learning communities with adjacencies and shared, multidisciplinary spaces that facilitate project-based, hands-on, and interdisciplinary learning.
Although the current organizational structure is departmental, the flexibility of the design allows for pod orientation to change with simple room name changes—STEM program spaces are designed to function within a variety of pod configurations.