Cleveland Clinic Lerner School for Autism3802 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Shaker Heights, OH 44104
Design Achievement – The innovative approach used at Lerner School for Autism integrated clinical and educational services to provide an early example of a school dedicated to the instruction of autistic children within a hospital environment. A benchmark facility for the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital, the Lerner School for Autism weaves clinical intervention, medicine and education for people with autism under one roof. With an overriding design goal of minimalism, each decision related to the exterior envelope was purposeful, maintaining a clean, forward-thinking design that complemented the cutting-edge technology and concepts used to help educate children at the school. The design expresses a strong modernist simplicity and clarity of purpose. Every detail and element considers the potential impact on student behavior and sensory experience. Highly-organized spaces with optimal acoustics, lighting and indoor air quality and temperature for thermal comfort support the behavioral and sensory program. A result of a collaborative and intensive programming session, the unique layout and planning of spaces offers a secure environment in which those with autism can focus and learn. The space is compliant with regulations from both the Ohio Department of Education and the Joint Commission for Healthcare Accreditation. The Lerner School for Autism was the subject of lectures at the Healthcare Facilities Symposium and National Association of Children’s and Rehabilitation Hospital Planning & Design Conference and featured in Healthcare Design magazine.
Scope Summary – The 21,000-SF project included eight classroom suites with features that vary based on the age of the students. Strict program requirements drove the design to maintain the 1:1 student to teacher ratio as well as to create a neutral sensory environment. The design team worked with the school staff to produce spaces that minimize distractions, control acoustics, provide durability, and prevent injury. The school also includes conference and training facilities in conjunction with administrative offices, activity and dining spaces, and speech therapy spaces. Encouraging family involvement, a media room allows parents to observe children in the classroom from a remote location. DLR Group provided architecture, interiors, and FF&E services.