Twenty-first century education is bold. It’s flexible, creative, challenging and complex. It addresses a rapidly changing world filled with fantastic new problems as well as exciting new possibilities. The superintendent of Milpitas Unified School District had this in mind when he challenged HMC to create a design and construction plan to reshape the district’s aging facilities. This challenge set in motion the planning process that resulted in the design of the creative, collaborative Learning Centers at Spangler, Weller and Sinnott Elementary Schools.
The new design both supports and furthers this 21st century model through its innovative blueprint and responds to the school’s increasing demand for state-of-the-art interdisciplinary spaces. HMC transformed the traditional learning environment with flexible spaces, fewer fixed walls, better flow, acoustic separation, easy-to-move furniture, visual openness and transparency. These large, open spaces were our solution for Milpitas USD’s desire to renovate and innovate, providing opportunities for classes to be combined and for students to learn in new ways that support the movement to common core. The project’s humble budget required that structural alterations be kept to a minimum. Previously concealed clerestory windows, glulam beams and wood trusses were uncovered and reintroduced. With strategic wall removal and flexible partitions, HMC converted small spaces into wide open, flexible ones drenched in daylight and bright colors. As a result, the Learning Centers are now at the forefront of progressive education—inspiring creativity, positive energy, innovation and joy.