Designing Educational Architecture for Pre-K–12 Schools Through Collaboration

We Design Schools For Active Learning and Spirited Teaching

Education is evolving. More educators are embracing a Socratic model of teaching, where students work cooperatively to pose and answer questions and solve problems. Educational architecture, therefore, must incorporate designs that enable collaboration. This focus on teamwork starts well before the design phase. The most diligent architects of today’s Pre-K–12 facilities begin by collaborating with the school communities they serve.

Every school campus has needs. At HMC Architects, we not only want to meet those needs, but we also strive to improve the lives of all involved. By talking to students, teachers, administrators, and parents, and by putting ourselves in their shoes, we are better able to design buildings that support cooperative learning, are tailored to curriculum, and that encourage discussion and interaction campus-wide. Our job is to provide an environment that embraces discovery and inspires students and teachers alike.


Educational Architecture That Helps Teachers Teach and Students Learn

Our architecture can provide your school with the features it needs to meet your educational methods and goals, and your budget. Our designs often incorporate inter-classroom, shared common areas that are open and include movable furniture and walls. Does your school focus on performing arts? We can create a design that incorporates dance, music, or theater rehearsal and recital areas. Does your curriculum focus on STEM? We can equip your school with the facilities it needs to teach tomorrow's scientists and engineers. Learning happens everywhere on a campus, so a good design must encourage and promote outdoor activities, too. We design outdoor learning environments that offer students a variety of learning zones that meet their needs. From shaded plazas with tables for socializing to quiet areas for studying, we create spaces students can call their own. Through our designs, we address many other concerns, too, including sustainability and school security. No matter your school’s challenges, we can provide the ideal architectural solution.

Explore Some of Our Favorite Projects

Our architecture has made Pre-K–12 learning a collaborative, engaging journey at many schools. Here are a few of our favorite projects:

Washington Elementary School

In midtown Sacramento, California, lies Washington Elementary School—an educational gem that was waiting to be polished. We transformed this formerly closed campus, replacing low ceilings and poor lighting with higher ceilings, improved lighting, and larger windows, morphing it into an open, well-lit haven of learning. The school’s design incorporates elements of its new logo: a locomotive, which was not only inspired by the city’s train history, but also speaks to the school’s focus on STEAM learning and constant forward momentum. The new design incorporates moveable furniture and glass dividers that slide to create the spaces teachers and students need—when they need them.


Portola High School

Located next to the re-established Aqua Chinon Arroyo is a school that reflects the surrounding high-tech Great Park community. Portola High School, which offers students a variety of unique disciplines, feels more like a college campus or a Silicon Valley tech lab than a high school. Like a college, it has a student union—a central gathering place for socializing and school events. The union also exhibits student work to inspire creativity, and its proximity to the STEM program’s “maker space” invites students to engage in innovative projects like 3D printing, laser cutting, and other high-level amenities. Another prominent design feature is the inclusion of moveable walls that adjust to situational learning needs. A large sliding glass wall in the library, for example, allows the generous space to be divided into two smaller learning commons. Classrooms are situated around a central corridor where students can come together for collaborative projects. The result is a school where everyone’s excited about learning.


Double Peak School

At Double Peak School, named for the beautiful Double Peak Park in San Marcos, California, students are encouraged to pursue a variety of creative and technical disciplines. Whether studying music, design, engineering, coding, or other subjects, students are encouraged to follow their passions. Double Peak needed a dynamic building to suit the learning of both elementary and middle school students. We designed a campus that features a flexible innovation lab where students can learn to create apps and programs and further their grasp of technology. The lab is separated from the library next door by a sliding glass wall that can open to create a wide space for large gatherings. We also designed a multi-purpose music and performing arts theater that rivals high school performance spaces. The new building and its innovative features invite students to become fully engaged with the arts and technology.


Rancho Campana High School

Within commuting distance of Camarillo, Oxnard, and Thousand Oaks lies Rancho Campana High School, the most career-oriented school in Ventura County, California. In addition to designing labs that facilitate teaching the arts, engineering, and health and biological sciences, we envisioned classrooms that invite the fresh air and natural environment inside. Our design includes roll-up doors leading to green spaces in which students can learn and work on projects outside. We also designed classrooms equipped to teach specialized subjects. For example, the technology classroom is outfitted for robotics projects, and the woodshop doubles as a scene shop for theater students. The result of these design features is a communal campus that encourages students to join in each other's creative projects.


Let Us Design School Building Architecture to Help Your Students Succeed

If you believe our design innovations can help the students in your district, peruse our blog posts below, then contact HMC Architects. We’d be delighted to hear all about your district’s unique learning culture, architectural needs, and campus goals. Together we can collaborate to create a stunning design that helps your school and your students succeed.