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Springs Studio for Academic Excellence

Design Achievement - Springs Studio for Academic Excellence (formerly the Falcon Virtual Academy) is a unique facility that engages students through a variety of learning spaces and emerging technologies. DLR Group's design transformed an empty manufacturing warehouse into a blended learning environment to serve the needs of K-12 students following an online learning model for primarily home schooled students, working students, and transitional students. These students use the spaces and technology within Springs Studio when they need to collaborate on projects or seek instructional support from teachers. The Studio is the centerpiece of Falcon School District 49's focus on virtual learning. Students get the best of both worlds at this school: virtual and hands-on learning opportunities taught by certified teachers in a creative, engaging space. Spaces encompass, small and large group meeting areas, one-on-one spaces, and both quiet and active zones. Bright graphics and vibrant colors engage the students visually. Liberal use of marker board paint allows key spaces to be constantly changing while moveable furniture seems to be rearranged daily.

Scope Summary - The adaptive reuse of an aging manufacturing warehouse into a new, state-of-the-art school provided critical infill in a struggling area of the city, extending Falcon School District's commitment to the community. At $55 per square foot, and a final construction cost of $1.1 million, the reuse also was an effective and responsible use of patron dollars. The District leveraged funds to obtain a long-term lease, creating a new use for an abandoned building. Because Falcon Virtual Academy serves online learners across the District, the central location of the warehouse space was a strategic benefit. Located in central Colorado Springs on Constitution Avenue, immediately adjoining Powers Boulevard and close to Highway 24, the school is easily accessible to all of the District's students and to the greater community. DLR Group provided architecture and interiors services.

A mission of student engagement through a digital learning environment - Springs Studio’s mission is to engage student’s in an innovative, rigorous digital learning environment that instills critical thinking and comprehensive learning. The aim is to ensure the online learner is academically prepared for the collegiate environment and/or the workforce.

This focus on preparing students for college by utilizing on-line courses aligns with that of higher education institutions. It is estimated that one-in-four college students take an online course and attend classes in traditional settings, collaborate with other students in gathering spaces, and meet in off-campus settings. Springs Studio, with its modern and mature feel, acclimatizes older students to the experience of a college setting and prepares them for post-secondary education.

The result is a learning environment that fulfills the client’s vision for a space where Google meets Facebook. The design team understood the facility needed to be focused on engaging kids and creating spaces to foster innovation and enable delivery of a blended learning program.

The Vision

Falcon School District 49 Assistant Superintendent Kim McClelland had a vision for an educational program she dubbed the Innovation Zone, she just didn’t know how make it a reality. Her Innovation Zone would serve a distinct audience – home schooled students and working students who relied on the district’s online services, and transitional students who flounder in a traditional school setting. In 2010, the Innovation Zone began operating out of existing district facilities. Budget cuts, consolidations, and overcrowding soon demanded a standalone facility be identified to serve the needs of online students throughout the district

DLR Group and the district conducted a discovery process that generated a vision statement to guide the entire project:Springs Studio will be a flexible and innovative educational facility to foster creativity, blended learning, and pride for the students, faculty, and staff that are a part of the school.

Blended Learning

The physical environment of Springs Studio achieves this vision by creating a space that encompasses one-on-one spaces, small and large group meeting areas, and both quiet and noisy areas. Fun spaces abound throughout the design, like the banquette seating on either end of Quiet Zones I and 2 which allow students to lounge and learn. Bright graphics and vibrant colors engage the students visually. Liberal use of marker board paint allows key spaces to be constantly changing while moveable furniture seems to be rearranged daily. Design concepts like huddle areas with AppleTVs and interactive technology for small group teaming allows students to receive custom instruction while other students work independently using the banquette seating or movable furniture.

A “Best of Both Worlds” blended delivery model wouldn’t be complete without the ability to offer hands-on learning opportunities which students cannot experience online. This includes many lab sciences and experimentation-based courses. The science room features epoxy-topped cabinetry and gas hook-ups and fume hoods to allow experiments in courses like chemistry and biology.

The blended learning model is based on the concept of students visiting Springs Studio for regularly scheduled blocks of time (2-3 hours several times per week) to meet with teachers or collaborate on project-based assignments. This “office-hours” model often requires parents or family members to remain on site while students meet with teachers. The design also includes an inviting lounge space for parents and family members to wait while their student is meeting with a teacher. The lounge area features a TV and wi-fi so parents and family members can relax, make calls, access the web, or view the academic instruction taking place

Adaptive Reuse

The adaptive reuse of an aging manufacturing warehouse into a new, state-of-the-art Falcon School District school provided critical infill in a struggling area of the city, extending Falcon School District’s commitment to the community.

At $55 per square foot, and a final construction cost of $1.1 million, the reuse also was an effective and responsible use of patron dollars. The district leveraged funds responsibly to obtain a long-term lease, creating a new use for an abandoned building.

As Springs Studio serves online learners across the district, the central location of the warehouse space was a strategic benefit. Located in central Colorado Springs on Constitution Avenue, immediately adjoining Powers Boulevard and close to Highway 24, the school is easily accessible to all of the District’s students and to the greater community.

Awards & Recognition

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  • Merit Award for Interior Architecture

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Colorado South
  • BEST Award

    International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Rocky Mountain Chapter
  • Summit Merit Award, Outstanding Design in Renovation

    Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) Rocky Mountain Chapter
  • People’s Choice Award

    Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) Rocky Mountain Chapter
  • Adaptive Reuse Citation

    American School & University magazine, Architectural Portfolio
  • Gold Citation, Interior Renovation

    American School & University magazine
  • 2013 Educational Interiors Showcase Gold Citation

    American School & University magazine
  • A Design Is Market Award Winner in Education

    Shaw Contract Group

Springs Studio for Academic Excellence

Client
Falcon School District 49