Innovation in Education

South Conejos PK-12 School, Antonito, ColoradoWold Designs Schools for the 21st Century — And Beyond

Imagine returning to your own high school and discovering that nothing had changed. You might feel nostalgic, but you should feel worried: Education is not the place to look backward. Today’s students live in a world where innovation, creativity and integration with technology are essential to their futures — and let’s face it, all of our futures. When we invest in our students’ education, we invest in our whole community’s future.

That’s why Wold designs buildings for the innovative learning that is happening everywhere. Some of our schools have in-house “secondary academies” where students can take college-level courses. Others have maker spaces and work rooms that facilitate vocational training and project based learning. We have created L-shaped classrooms and rooms that can flex to accommodate diverse teaching methodologies. We look at special needs and unique student populations and design spaces that help them excel. Every school we design has designated zones for independent learning as well as social spaces for collaborative projects and group gatherings — because the need to connect is one thing that is even more important in the 21st century. 

“With every educational building we design, we go to school first,” said Job Gutierrez, AIA, LEED® AP. “We learn about the teachers and the students and the community. We learn about the kinds of teaching that happens at this particular school community and we learn about the programming they would like to do, if only they had the kind of facility that would make it possible. And then we figure out how to make that possible.”

For some schools, that’s a simple request, such as creating outdoor classrooms that let teachers take the lesson outside to reinvigorate the group or access nature for hands-on science lessons. Other schools ask for buildings that put technology front and center. Wold designs physical spaces, but we are just as attuned to the invisible systems that make the school day flow comfortably, productively, safely and connectively. 

Wold designs buildings that don’t lock schools into the present. We design buildings that accommodate the innovative teaching that is happening today, but we make sure that space can be easily changed if tomorrow’s needs are different.

“Wold assumes that all of our buildings will be fully wired for portable technology, but we don’t assume that technology won’t change during the life of this building, because we build schools that will last a very long time,” says Gutierrez. “These buildings won’t become outdated. Instead, they can be easily changed to accommodate the needs of the future. When it arrives, these schools will be ready. What we call future-ready schools.”

How Wold Makes Innovative Learning Possible: 

  • Flexible learning spaces to accommodate dynamic learning
  • Social hubs for collaborative learning and gatherings
  • Vocational workspaces for large-scale learning
  • Safe outdoor classrooms
  • Integrated, invisible building systems
  • Sustainable buildings with low operational and maintenance costs
  • Open sightlines for ease of supervision
  • Durable exterior structures with easily adaptable interiors
  • Strategic design to streamline movement of students within the building
  • Invisible yet accessible mechanical systems
  • Technology at the ready