By Jessie Fetterling
ATLANTA — Construction broke ground on a new Primary School Learning Center at the Atlanta International School’s campus in Atlanta’s Buckhead district.
Comprised of several buildings, the AIS campus will not only include the new three-story learning center, but it will also gain a new 9,000-square-foot courtyard that will be used for outdoor classrooms. A new cafeteria will also replace the existing library on the second floor. SG Contracting is handling construction for the project, while Lord Aeck Sargent is serving as the architect — both of which are locally based.
School Construction News spoke with Sachin Shailendra, president of SG Contracting, to get an insider look at the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2018, and to see how this school continues to build upon its international model.
Q: What is the main goal of the project?
Shailendra: The purpose of this project is to allow one of the most recognized and highly rated International schools in the country to continue growing so students can have an even better academic and extracurricular spaces. In addition to growing the campus as a whole, this project will also give students in K-5 a larger and more collaborative space.
Q: What are the key design elements involved?
Shailendra: The project consists of a new cooling system, constructing a new three-story primary school building with an outdoor courtyard and demolishing the existing library space to make room for a new kitchen.
The key design elements of this project are the indoor learning spaces that transition seamlessly into outdoor classrooms, as well as multiple flex areas that can be used for a multitude activities at the same time.
Q: How does the new design incorporate 21st century learning trends?
Shailendra: In a society that promotes more and more “screen” time, outdoor classrooms are becoming more and more mandatory. Children often spend hours inside at school staring at a screen only to go home and repeat the process. Outdoor classrooms offer the ability to revert some of the strenuous eye exercise and supplement some strenuous physical exercises. The project also utilizes flex rooms, which are designed to give more control to teachers. If the math class needs a smart board and structured desks, it is available. If, 15 minutes later, the math class requires a large open, collaborative space for a group project, it is available. Equipped with rolling marker boards, mobile storage drawers, and makerspaces, this building will be ready for any lesson.
Q: How does offering both indoor and outdoor spaces enhance learning opportunities for students?
Shailendra: The indoor and outdoor spaces allow teachers and staff to transition any inside class into an outdoor adventure. This keeps students alert, attentive and engaged for longer periods of time, leading students to retain more information in every class, as well as provides a welcoming change of scenery. The transitioning of spaces also allows teachers and staff to pull from their surroundings more, showing students that the lessons they are being taught can and are being used in the everyday outside world.