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Two Designers Reveal Their Process for Creating Inspired Classrooms

Posted by MooreCo Inc on May 6, 2021 4:00:17 PM

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skowalk-150rrandall-150When Robin Randall and Sylvia Kowalk of Legat Architects begin a project, inspiration abounds.

 

At the start of every new design, they prioritize by listening. As preK-12 educational designers, they are adept at consciously and thoroughly envisioning the use of a space for students of all ages, considering what would make them most comfortable, happy, and productive. Sylvia and Robin spoke at MooreCo’s recent Thrive Forward webinar, reflecting on the design of school environments using the Thrive Philosophy and the 6 stages of optimal human development. Here are just a few highlights of their process for space renewal and school design. 

Creating a Community Within the Community

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Sylvia and Robin are masters of transforming spaces and shared success stories. They were able to renew a 1927 Gothic High School with beautiful brick bones into a modern and welcoming learning space. Robin and Sylvia said that a key point of their design process is to consider the community within the community. They consider the culture, heritage, and history of not only the building, but the community at large. They then allow that to inform them about what is important to maintain in the space. What character should be preserved and what can be improved upon?  They answered this question by creating an open space for reception space with a beautiful mural wall. This front office allows parents, teachers, and students to check in daily. The area is welcoming and resonates school pride. 

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To create a welcoming environment like the historic-while-modern reception office Sylvia and Robin created, start with ergonomic furniture. The Avid Modular Desk System is a superior example of an organizational space with comfort features built in, ideal for educators. Pair with the Elate Task Chair, which features a revolutionary weight-sensing mechanism and supports optimal spinal alignment. For students, create community with tables that can be easily configured together. Creator Tables and Desks with porcelain steel tops bring students together for group idea sharing and problem solving, in playful shapes that are as comfortable as they are functional. 

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Retreat, Retract, Renew, Recharge

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When reflecting on the 6 developmental principles for optimal health, Sylvia mentions the value of allowing students to have choice. While social-emotional learning requires that students be allowed freely interact with one another, we also know that from and intellectual standpoint, all students learn differently. Some may need a moment to be alone. This gives them the space to process emotion, new information, or just reflect in peace. For this, Sylvia suggests contained spaces of comfort and softness that offer solace to all students who learn better alone or simply need time away.

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For spaces that include a place to relax and renew, reading nooks can create a beacon for much-needed alone time. Students can more easily focus and release with the Koil Reading Nook and Privacy Pod that are ideal for common areas, libraries, and lounge spaces. With soft seating, curved edges, and a gently enclosed outer shape, students can find comfort for downtime to read or study alone.

Fostering Flexibility

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Robin and Sylvia always consider flexibility when created spaces for students of all ages. This means comfortable, ergonomic furniture that meets the needs of the user. It also means creating a myriad of options for where and how to learn. Soft seating where students can gather or relax, pieces that move so that they can release excess energy, or seating that supports their spinal positioning-these are all extremely important for health and success. This extends even beyond the walls of the school, to create outdoor classrooms and environments that suit the times.

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Flexible furniture can make all the difference in the health, happiness, and productivity of students of all ages. For older students and teachers, the Akt Tables can encourage standing and movement, as well as collaboration. For pieces that encourage movement, the Soft Sway and Rocking Stool produce rhythmic micromovements that will soothe active learners and help release excess energy. For relaxation, Beanies by MooreCo come in indoor and outdoor versions, perfect for any classroom, lounge, or courtyard. 

Focusing on the Future

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Even in a nearly one-hundred-year-old school building, Robin and Sylvia know they are preparing students for the digital age. This is why they created collaboratoriums and STEM spaces within LeSalle-Peru High School that included functional pieces to facilitate learning. Students today need to be prepared for an economy that thrives on online communication, digital mediums, and fast-paced growth. E-sports rooms, collaboratoriums, and STEM spaces are all designed to help students get ready for the type of work environment they will face in life.

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Creating a great space that prepares students for the future begins with creating spaces that look and feel like a workplace. This means encouraging autonomy, freedom, and choice for each student, while also providing them with functional furniture and great tech. The Compass line of makerspace tables and cabinets is ideal for STEM labs and work environments, giving students the opportunity to access their own supplies for projects. Media spaces facilitate hybrid learning, integrating tech with group and conference-style learning. Add in leading-edge products that present and share projects and lessons like the i3SIXTY or  i3Touch to seamlessly connect students to the outer world and their own imaginations.

We’re Here to Help

At MooreCo, we love collaborating with visionary designers like Sylvia Kowalk and Robin Randall because they share a holistic view of what it takes to make a great space. With considerations like mental and physical well-being of each student, we are preparing each child for the workforce while making sure they feel heard.

We’re dedicated to creating spaces that evolve with each user and help them thrive. If you’re interested in learning more about any of our new products, contract services, or Render to Reality success stories, contact us today. We love sharing our process to spread awareness of truly great educational spaces that will help shape future generations. Let us know how we can help you.

Topics: Insider, Design, Human Development, Active Classroom, Designer's Corner, Technology, Back-to-school, Teacher's Favorites, Thrive