The Howard School, a school for kids with learning differences, is located in a former industrial neighborhood on the Westside of Atlanta and recognized as one of our Schools of the Future.
Originally built in 2008 on what was part of the property of the adjacent Goat Farm Arts Center, a former cotton gin mill turned artist village and performance space, the first constructed buildings of the campus housed a K-12 classroom building and gymnasium. The building design is reminiscent of the industrial context of Atlanta’s Westside, with long shed-like forms, mixed materials and exposed steel. A center tower serves as a beacon for the neighborhood and at the center of the campus is a black box theater with a corrugated metal airplane hangar door which opens to an amphitheater.
Due to the needs of the school, a new 36,000 square foot high school building and 10,000 square foot cafeteria / multipurpose space were constructed to create a unified campus around a central courtyard. The new high school was designed by Freespace Architecture in the form of a long shed structure, like the adjacent buildings. The building shifts and breaks about a central concrete wall which severs the building into two classroom wings. The center shift contains the public gathering space - lobby, lounges and locker areas. On the courtyard side in the center of the building, the main large student lounge space hovers over an outdoor lounge area with built in concrete risers, which becomes the focal point of the building.
The Patcraft flooring in the high school was chosen to reflect the teaching methods of the school. Because the high school contains shared use space and administrative space with the rest of the age groups, the carpet was used as a visual key map for the space. To create a pattern language, Color Block carpet tile was woven in with the neutral gray, Century. Color Pop was used as accent planks to relate to use of the space. Color Century Pop is used in the classrooms and Linea 2, Robin’s Egg is used in administration areas while Linea 2, Pumpkin is installed in secondary ancillary use areas. All the colorways then converge in public areas, used by the whole school. Navigation of the space can be determined through the wayfinding of the floor.
In the corridors the colors interact with the walls to create the effect of paint running down the walls onto the carpet. This gives visual breaks to the long corridors and creates indented space to highlight student work. In areas where the corridor opens up to gathering spaces, the color blocks break down the space into areas, sometimes becoming central resting zones for study.
The classrooms administration and secondary areas then relate directly to the corridor as the small stripes in the carpet, like paint “footprints” breaking up the neutrality of the flooring, creating synergy inside and out. One of the unique focal learning spaces is a circular room lined with white boards, located adjacent to the STEM lab space. The room is meant to be used as a collaborative space for project based work. Doors leading to the exterior covered outdoor classroom space expand the flexibility, allowing teachers to use the connected spaces in conjunction with each other, giving them space to teach using the outdoors, inside in an interactive environment or in the tech lab space.
Typography LVT was chosen for the science rooms because it has the appearance of worn and scratched concrete, which is in keeping with the aesthetic of the other exposed concrete floors and walls in the building. The floor is patterned with three different colors, Exclamation, Script and Serif to create some depth for a space that is largely lined with millwork.
The cafeteria building is located across the courtyard from the black box theater and creates a dialogue between the two buildings that are central to the core values of the school – using the arts and movement to help kids learn. The school needed the space to have the flexibility to be used both as a cafeteria and as a secondary gymnasium or gathering space. The Howard School also wanted a low maintenance product that had the performance capabilities of a typical gym floor. Bounce Back allowed the floor to be receptive to the abuse cafeteria flooring may take and still have the performance characteristics to allow for competitive sports practice, including the ability to have lines painted on the floor. The warm wood pattern of Bounce Back was bordered with a dark blue solid color which is the school’s branding color.
The campus of The Howard School was designed to reflect the school's teaching process. Spaces are designed to be multi-use with angled walls mirroring the adaptable, dynamic methods of teaching kids who need different methods of learning.
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