“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us” – Winston Churchill
Put simply, school facilities DO impact learning, and with high-quality, safe, durable buildings, students and teachers perform better.
A school is one of the community’s most valuable assets and is one of the most important facilities in a person’s life — whether a student or an educator, it is a place where development and learning take place, where friendships grow, and where vocational or recreational interests are kindled. That kind of environment requires care and attention for a community of learners to thrive. Choosing the right school architects to develop and/or care for the facility is vital.
Plenty of studies now exist that show a well-designed, high performance school can improve student and teacher health to enhance learning, increase daily attendance, and reduce energy bills. School architects play a major role in the development of a school – whether through additions and renovations to existing structures, or to the construction of an all-new facility. It’s more than creating a design for the school and putting together drawings for a bid. In fact, school architects can shape the way learning and teaching will unfold by creating spaces that support education holistically.
There are many considerations that go into good school design. Things like access to the outdoors, classroom spaces that promote independent learning and safety, facilities that are sized and laid out appropriately to the age group they serve, and the overall floor map of the school being easily navigable all impact student success. If the school is used by the community or other partners, there are considerations for that, along with any cultural features that need to be included.
A school construction project is usually a big-ticket build with a lot of eyes watching. Parents, administrators, and community members want to know that the design is suitable and that the project will unfold as planned. While a private architecture project typically only involves a few people, a public project like a school has to meet the needs of students, teachers, administrators, parents, community members, outside visitors, and other school staff.
For all of these reasons, and more, choosing the right school architect is imperative. Here are a few things to look for when making your choice.
Often school facilities are subject to additional codes and regulatory requirements, meaning a school project is not something a new architect should take on — in fact, the architect you choose should specialize in designing for education or other community facilities. Look at portfolios of previous projects, not just for the designs and “pretty pictures”, but to learn more about the architect’s style and problem-solving skills. You can also inquire about any specialized training the architect or firm has, centering on educational design, green school design, or educational master planning.
Related experience goes a long way in creating a school that looks great and functions well. If an architect has already mastered several school projects, their hands-on experience will inform decision making and problem-solving going forward.
Architects who have experience in school design and construction can look beyond the immediacy of this current issues and consider things like how the building will factor into a larger master plan or long-range facilities plan, and how the design will impact the cost of operations and maintenance as the building ages. A school should withstand the test of time and offer many years of life, and choosing the right school architect ensures that your school building will last.
The skills and experience of large-scale project management and balancing the needs of several parties will also help bring your project to completion smoothly.
As with any major architecture project, a large task like designing and constructing a school will come with problems along the way. Good school architects have problem-solving skills, along with the ability to plan ahead to minimize these issues.
Large-scale projects like schools are complex, and your chosen architect should have the ability to see problems through, making sure they are solved to everyone’s satisfaction in a timely manner without holding up the project. An architect should always put the needs of the project and the needs of the client first in problem-solving.
Planning and development skills come with experience, training, and education, which is a great reason to choose an architect who has successfully showcased their strengths in previous projects.
Good school architects are ones who allow school stakeholders to be a part of the process. The more information an architect has about how the school will be used, the better the end result will be, so your architect should be willing to listen. The architect should be able to translate those ideas into a vision that suits the needs of all stakeholders, while remaining true to budget, time and regulatory constraints.
SSP Architects is an architecture firm in NJ with the knowledge, skill, and training to make your school a valued place for students, staff, and community members. Our approach is one of making every single community building we design a place that is welcoming, safe, healthy, and durable – and right for the community it serves. We do this by collaborating with our clients to fully understand what architectural success looks like to stakeholders, and putting those ideas and goals into practice to bring high quality, resilient building designs to life.
You can count on us to deliver your project. In choosing the right school architects, look no further than SSP Architects. Contact us today to learn more about our services.