EARLY LEARNING CENTER AND CO.LAB
This project is an expansion of Avenues:The World School’s New York Campus.The total project is approximately 65,000 square feet within a new ten-story building consisting of a dedicated entrance lobby, three floors for the Early Learning Center (ELC), and one floor for the upper-school Science,Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) Program.
The entrance lobby is over 3,000 square feet to support picking up and dropping off students.
Though this project is an expansion of the main school building, by having a separate, dedicated entrance lobby, ELC students do not have to cross the street or have to walk up or down the block when entering and exiting the school.
Queuing space alongside scooter and stroller parking within the lobby provides parents with a space to wait for their children inside the building and prevents a buildup of pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk.
This area also houses security, reception to the school, as well as a gallery space for displaying student works. A devoted set of elevators and open stairs allow the school population to move between floors without going through spaces used by other tenants and also ensures the lobby will not become over-crowded during morning arrivals.
THE EARLY LEARNING CENTER
The Early Learning Center floors not only meet the needs of young students, but also fulfill the requirements of Avenues’ curriculum, which emphasizes collaboration, interdisciplinary study, and learning through play. On each floor are commons areas and purpose-built specialty spaces including those for art, music, science, and dance.
The classrooms where students spend the most of their time are paired to support Avenues’ immersion program in which students move between classrooms on alternating days. Additionally, each classroom is connected to an easily accessible bathroom.
A multipurpose room that opens up to an outdoor area enables the school to have students active both inside and outside every day and an outdoor classroom facilitates sensory exploration, which is major focus of early-learning science.
- Early Learning Center Lobby
- Outdoor Classroom
- Multipurpose Room
From the beginning, a desire to ‘get it right’, prompted questions about how to engage the stakeholders and users in the design process. Avenues led an effort with the architecture team to prototype the design of the most recurring space within the newly proposed facility – the Early Learning classroom.
The first iteration of the prototype was a taped outline of a typical early learning classroom with details like shelving and cabinets.This mock-up promoted the design discussion and led to the idea of a full-sized prototype. Built within some swing space in the neighborhood, it included prototype millwork, window-wall representation, and selected furniture.
The mock-up and its design intent was presented to the cohort of Early Learning administrators and faculty. They had an opportunity to be in the space and interact with it. From that interaction, they provided feedback, which was used to refine and develop the design.
As a final gut check, select Pre-K and Kindergarten classes spent a block of time within the space, and were observed during their visit.This observation confirmed the sizes, configurations and locations of storage walls, counters and other room features ensuring the space was truly right-sized for the young learner during this pivotal growth and developmental stage.
EARLY LEARNING CENTER CLASSROOMS
Maintaining the slab-to-slab height and the large exterior windows throughout the floors created an inspiring design challenge since most students using this school would be less than four feet tall.
The solution was a custom pitched series of acoustic blades designed and installed to showcase height and volume, yet bring the scale of the rooms down appropriately, creating a comfortable and fitting environment for the young learners.
Additionally, the acoustics in such large volumes with groups of students learning, talking and participating needed attention. Blue cellulose insulation was used
to soften the concrete ceiling both acoustically and visually. Wall panels also improved classroom acoustics and minimized noise pollution.
- Custom Acoustic Blades
- Children’s Height Sink Area
- Mobile Custom Furniture
- Children’s Height Storage Wall
Support spaces for faculty and staff were incorporated into the environment. These auxiliary spaces were not only considered as important to serving the mission of purpose-built design but also as an opportunity to attract great staff and great families to the school.
In an urban environment where high utilization rate of space is necessary, all support spaces were also designed to function as multipurpose areas. All offices and lounges, like classrooms, contain custom millwork over radiators.This not only provides extra desirable seating options like benches and cushions but also serves as a lounging space with natural lighting.
The Co.Lab floor hosts the STEAM program.The design of this floor pulls elements from the lobby and the ELC, yet provides students with an environment that matches the seriousness and ambitiousness of their projects, where they will see themselves as real-world designers, makers, and entrepreneurs.
Conceived as an environment to encourage ideation and experimentation, the Co.Lab supports an interdisciplinary and project-based learning approach. While Science,Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics program spaces predominate, the entire floor is designed to flexibly accommodate all subject areas.
Industry-leading features include visual and physical connections between areas, niche areas for small group work, retractable walls and mobile storage units that allow for various spatial
configurations, offering exploratory instruction areas where upper school students can work with their fellow classmates, a teacher, or individually.
The Co.Lab houses a variety of functions including a fabrication laboratory (the “Fab Lab”), a design studio (the “Digital Design Lab”), three seminar-style huddle rooms within two
multidisciplinary science laboratories (the “Science Studios”), and three Art Wet Labs and Studios with neighboring pin-up areas and gallery displays.
- Co.Lab Elevator Lobby
- Co.Lab Break Out Space
- Seminar Classroom
- Science Studio
- Art Lab
- Fab Lab