Helping Shape the Future of Classroom Design.
From trendy brightly-colored shared offices to libraries equipped with digital technology, private and public spaces have evolved over time. For several years, co-working companies have prioritized communal spaces and the distribution of light to make offices bright and appealing. In the public sector, cities are equipping public libraries with spaces for electronics, laptops, Skype stations and 3D printers to stay relevant. With all these changes happening to modern spaces, administrators and educators of today’s K-12 classrooms are looking for similar solutions for the classroom of the future, departing from old-fashioned model of rows of chairs and front-facing desks.
As technology continues to revolutionize our culture and the spaces where we work and live, one institution in Escondido is rethinking the design of the spaces where we learn. Earlier this year, Epiphany Prep Charter School administrators announced their goal to transform a 36,000-square foot hardware store and warehouse into a school of the future. To help with this project, Epiphany Prep enlisted KCM Group, a full-service construction management company and construction consulting firm, which has emerged as the local leader in learning space design and construction.
KCM Group has been at the helm of education projects such as the Urban Discovery Academy (UDA) in East Village, San Diego’s first downtown K-8 charter school. The construction of the school, managed by KCM Group, included an innovative open-plan with fewer walls and the addition of a rooftop playground that embraces the surrounding urban environment. The school utilizes non-traditional classrooms with desks that fit together like fans, creating half-rounds to encourage group work. Bright colors and modern furnishings contrast with the vaulted ceilings and exposed brick from the original historic building to help encourage collaboration, creativity and innovation among students and teachers.
“We want to prepare our learners for the jobs of tomorrow, which means completely rethinking our classroom environment,” says Epiphany Prep CEO David Rivera. “To accomplish this, we had to think: if we want our tables and chairs to move around for collaboration, where do we put the electrical outlets? What will the lighting look like? It was all new territory for us, but it is critical to designing for learning in the digital age.”
From his time working with UDA, KCM Group Principal Gordon Kovtun continues to focus on flexible, open plans that foster a collaborative approach to teaching. Now at Epiphany Prep, Kovtun is working with the school’s administrators to replace walls with collapsible glass panels, which will help provide opportunities for students and teachers to collaborate in ways that mimic modern professional work environments.
“Our work with Epiphany Prep is consistent with the future of classroom design, whether in the private and charter school environments or renovations of existing public schools,” Kovtun shared with Giving Back Magazine. “We have done complete design-build projects like the Urban Discovery Academy and the new Kipp Adelante Preparatory Academy, which will start construction soon, to renovations for existing buildings like Epiphany. Each project is unique as some can require management of bond funding, design management and construction management, and may combine with the renovation. But, each aims to inject a modern, architecturally unique mark on the neighborhood the school serves.”
As technologies continue to change the spaces where we live and work, forward-thinking minds with Epiphany Prep and KCM Group are paving the way for other academic institutions to rethink where and how we learn. As a local business owner with an interest in the city’s future local talent and economy, Kovtun knows education is the catalyst.