The Ransom Everglades School in Miami takes a page from the corporate offices of Ideo, Google, Apple, and American Express, thanks to a new campus designed by Perkins & Will.
When the Ransom Everglades School set out to augment its Miami high school campus with a new building focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, its educators saw an opportunity. They wanted to rethink how a physical space at the school could reflect the kind of future-focused learning that would happen there.
âWe wanted something that wasnât traditional,â says Penny Townsend, head of the school. âI wanted every space to be a learning space, that in every corner of the building something was going on.â
To the architects designing the project for this well-regarded private school, the job sounded a lot like work they do for another type of client: corporate America.
âYou see Ideo and Google and Apple and American Expressâa lot of our clients are creating these workplace environments for both research and enhancement of collisions and collaboration,â says Pat Bosch, principal and design director of the architecture firm Perkins & Willâs Miami studio. âItâs informality about, âDo I need a desk? Can I just find some soft seating and do my work there?'â
The building theyâve designed for the schoolâs campus could just as easily have fit onto a corporate campus. With a mix of tech-rich classrooms, maker spaces, and labs for courses in robotics, chemistry, and biology, the buildingâs core is a broad central hallway that was intended to provide spaces for social interactions and collaborative learning. The classrooms are flexible, with walls and large doors that can open to allow for different sizes and configurations, and every learning space has glass walls looking out on the central hallwayâa design choice intended to embrace studentsâ fundamental curiosity, according to Bosch. âThat curiosity can be mined and can be a source of inspiration and a source of propelling students to being engaged,â she says.
Itâs a mix of learning spaces deeply influenced by the kinds of work environments in modern corporate offices, where some spaces are oriented toward team-based work while other spaces offer a hybrid of private areas for focused work and interactive zones to spark creativity.
The central hallway inside the building is meant to be a mixture of the collaborative spaces of the corporate world and the flexibility of the research world. For good measure, itâs even got a dash of the hospitality world, Bosch says. âYou can lounge, you can have a meeting, you can have a conversation,â she says. âThere are the social aspects of a lobby or a hub in hospitality that allows for this informal aspect of the social learning and even collaboration.â
And with its internal walls of transparent glass, this central hub also becomes a way to blur educational boundaries. âThereâs such synergy between the different disciplines,â says school head Townsend. The glass walls also double as learning spaces. Theyâre all writable surfaces, and theyâve become integrated into the teaching and the studentsâ collaborative work. âThey havenât written anything filthy yet, so thatâs been good,â Townsend says.
More important, she argues, is the new buildingâs focus on changing the dynamic between teacher and student and broadening the ways that learning happens. âYou canât have kids sitting in rows and some teacher at the front droning on,â she says. âItâs n