Involving Students in School Design

Students observe the construction of New Haven's L.W. Beecher Museum Magnet School, which Svigals + Partners designed. Photo courtesy of Allison Gapski

Students observe the construction of New Haven’s L.W. Beecher Museum Magnet School, which Svigals + Partners designed. Photo courtesy of Allison Gapski/Svigals + Parters

I spoke a few weeks ago with an architect from Svigals + Partners, the New Haven-based firm that’s designing the city’s new Engineering and Science University Magnet School, about the project’s progress and a proposed “Kids Build” program that would involve students in the process.

The Engineering and Science University Magnet School was established in 2008 in partnership with UNH’s Tagliatela College of Engineering and the City of New Haven. The new facility, which will be located adjacent to UNH, in West Haven, is expected to serve middle- and high-school students who’ve been taking classes in separate locations.

During a telephone conversation in mid-March, Svigals + Partners architect Joseph Banks said that he and his colleagues were about halfway through the project’s design-development phase.

The planned five-story building’s location will allow students to take full advantage of what Banks described as “significant programmatic overlap” between the magnet school and the college.

In designing the facility, Banks and his colleagues have sought to connect the school’s end users with the natural world they’ll be exploring, and with one another.

Architectural elements that immortalize some of history’s most influential scientific minds are being incorporated into the school’s design to further connect students to their academic investigations.

According to Allison Gapski, Svigals + Partners’ marketing manager, “Kids Build is a program proposed by Svigals + Partners to the city’s Board of Education, intended to educate school children about the design, construction and main­tenance of their new schools. … Thus far, the Kids Build program has been realized at two New Haven Public Schools – the Beecher School in 2006 and the Columbus Family Academy in 2008. Throughout the construction of each school, groups of 30 students met for four two-hour workshops. Activities included exploring the office of Svigals +Partners, vis­iting construction trailers, participating in discussions with the architects, construction managers and tradespeople, and … touring the schools at various stages of construction.”

David Brensilver

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