DLR Group Wins Education Master Plan in U.S. Virgin Islands

DLR Group has been selected by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education to conduct an educational facilities master plan to set the new direction for planning and design in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The plan includes more than 2.7 million SF of educational space in 45 facilities across St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas.

Aging schools across the U.S. Virgin Islands are rapidly deteriorating in their tropical environment, and many have been further weakened and damaged by Category 5 hurricanes over the years, including Hurricane Irma and Maria in 2017. In addition, many schools are more than 40 years old and do not comply with industry building standards, presenting challenges in delivering future-ready environments for learners. DLR Group’s scope of work consists of developing educational specifications, building programs, sustainable and energy goals, and design concepts to create 21st century learning environments for learners across the Virgin Islands.

“DLR Group is leveraging the FEMA funding for a revitalized and enhanced future-facing educational system in the U.S. Virgin Islands, amidst the devastation the population has experienced over the past few years,” said DLR Group Principal Pamela Loeffelman, FAIA. “Our integrated design services will provide a strategic redevelopment plan that will deeply engage students, provide a supportive environment for educators, and overall revitalize the education community.”

The master plan, which is expected to be completed by June 2020, will touch on four primary components including spatial agility, school safety, sustainability, and community partnership. A roadmap for the future of education in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the master plan will maintain and expand the guiding principles set in 2019 by more than 45 stakeholders, including government officials, educational leaders, teachers, students, parents, community, and industry partners. The guiding principles are: health, safety and security; equity; cultural, local and economic competence and resilience; whole child to be prepared for higher education and workplace; addressing the needs of students with technology; using technology to assess the impact of practices; and integrated design, assessment, operation, and management.

“The department wanted to engage an interdisciplinary firm that has an in-depth understanding of the needs of modern day school systems and can achieve planning and design excellence as it relates to wellbeing and resilience,” said Dr. Dionne Wells-Hedrington, Chief Operations Officer for Virgin Islands Department of Education. “We’re excited to work in tandem with DLR Group to strengthen the education system for students and educators alike.”

DLR Group is collaborating with Witt O’Brien’s, a leader in crisis and emergency management. The firm is leading crisis management work in the territory.