Cleveland Heights-University Heights (CH-UH) City School District is committed to providing academic excellence. This is expressed powerfully in the district’s vision of Preparing All Students for Success in A Global Economy (PASSAGE). Many measures have been taken by the district to create a challenging and relevant curriculum in a nurturing environment to accomplish this vision. This initiative implements Project Based Learning and focused on developing student focused learning environments in a variety of building typologies from 1920’s post war buildings to 1970’s buildings constructed as open plan schools. The first step was to create a pilot project in Oxford Elementary, a 1921 architecturally significant neighborhood school, over one summer in order for teachers and students to begin working in a project based learning environment. The existing floor plan was a traditional double loaded corridor with three classrooms on each side. The design focused on supporting students Physiological, Psychological, Sociological, Environmental, Perceptual, and Emotional attributes. In order to support these fundamentals of learning and ensure “all children must have equal or equitable access to learning”2 the traditional classrooms were reconfigured to support small group discussion, one on one instruction, peer to peer learning, niches for quiet self-directed learning, spaces open to accommodate large group projects and activities. Developing these supportive spaces adjacent and in some cases connected to the classroom provided the enormous opportunity for students to learn in a variety of ways and the teacher opportunity to facilitate learning. In these new classroom environments, children are active learners engaged in hands-on interactions, play and discovery.
Practically, design and documentation was completed in two months so that June 9th construction could begin. Existing conditions were accurately documented, construction documents were thorough according to the studioTECHNE standard of care; construction proceeded with very few surprises (removal of large sections of 24” corridor walls went exceptionally smoothly) and work was completed on time for the opening of school in August.