As a continuing effort to give back to our community, we have started our annual outdoor classroom project, Learnscape. Version 2.0 will be in partnership with our friends in the Blue Springs School District.
The Freshman Center Learnscape (v.2.0) is currently being designed in collaboration with the Project Lead The Way class at the Freshman Center in Blue Springs, Missouri. We wanted to give the students the unique opportunity to be the Owner, Architect, and Builder while also allowing the Hollis + Miller team to gain insight on the project from the student’s perspective.
The process began with a small team from Hollis + Miller presenting the concept of brain-based education as well as an introduction to what an outdoor classroom might be. The class was asked to develop concept boards describing what they thought an outdoor classroom could look like.
The class was invited to be the “Architect”, and participate in the design charrette process at the Hollis + Miller office. The students presented their initial concepts. It was quite fun and very impressive to see these young learners navigate the waters that we patrol daily. Their initial thoughts were very creative and well thought-out.
To build on these concepts, we asked the students, “What makes an outdoor classroom different from an indoor classroom?” This discussion lead to the development of project program. The students then divided into groups to generate ideas based on what we learned in the discussion. The charrette was punctuated by having the students present to our staff. Again, everyone was blown away by their innovation and enthusiasm.
These ideas became a springboard for two in-house design charrettes. The first focused on the site, and the second was centered around experimenting with materiality. As the project was developed, we shared with the entire firm to increase the level of collaboration and quality of the project.
To bring it full circle, we put the students in the owner’s seat and presented our development of their ideas back to them. Our progress was received with much excitement, including a short monologue of gratitude from one particularly inspired student.
We are still finalizing the design, so stay tuned for updates!