By SCN Staff
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Education recently selected DLR Group—an integrated design firm delivering architecture, engineering, interiors, planning, and building optimization for new construction, renovation, and adaptive reuse—to conduct an educational facilities master plan to set the new direction for planning and design in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The plan includes more than 2.7 million square feet of educational space in 45 facilities across St. Croix, St. John, and St. Thomas.
Due to its tropical environment, aging schools across the U.S. Virgin Islands are rapidly deteriorating. Many have also been weakened and damaged by Category 5 hurricanes over the years.
Additionally, many schools are more than 40 years old and no longer comply with industry building standards, presenting challenges in delivering future-ready environments for learners.
DLR Group’s scope of work includes developing educational specifications, building programs, sustainable and energy goals, and design concepts to create 21st century learning environments.
The firm is also collaborating with Witt O’Brien, a leader in crisis and emergency management.
Said DLR Group Principal Pamela Loeffelman, in a statement, “DLR Group is leveraging the FEMA funding for a revitalized and enhanced future facing educational system in the U.S. Virgin Islands, amidst the devastation the population has experienced over the past few years. Our integrated design services will provide a strategic redevelopment plan that will deeply engage students, provide a supportive environment for educators, and overall revitalize the education community.”
The master plan—expected to be completed by this June—will touch on four primary components including spatial agility, school safety, sustainability, and community partnership.
The aim is to maintain and expand the guiding principles set in 2019 by more than 45 stakeholders, including government officials, educational leaders, teachers, students, parents, community, and industry partners.
The guiding principles include:
- health, safety and security
- cultural, local and economic competence and resilience
- whole child to be prepared for higher education and workplace
- addressing the needs of students with technology
- using technology to assess the impact of practices
- integrated design, assessment, operation and management.
“The department wanted to engage an interdisciplinary firm that has an in-depth understanding of the needs of modern day school systems and can achieve planning and design excellence as it relates to wellbeing and resilience,” commented Dr. Dionne Wells-Hedrington, Chief Operations Office for Virgin Islands Department of Education.
“We’re excited to work in tandem with DLR Group to strengthen the education system for students and educators alike.”