Designing schools that change futures

South Conejos PK-12 School, Antonito, Colorado

Wold's innovative learning spaces

More than 40 years ago, most classes were taught the same way: A teacher stood at the front of a room and lectured to silent rows of students. Today, Wold partners with educators, school administrators and civic leaders throughout the country to develop sustainable strategies that encourage and engage active learners and accommodate the real needs of 21st century learning.

Wold approaches the design and solutions for teaching spaces by working with educators and students alike -

  • What if you encouraged the teachers to move around the room by changing the shape of the space?
  • What if you brought students together in small or large work groups or took them outside of the classroom?
  • What if there was no ‘front of the room’?
  • What if you knocked down the walls entirely?
  • What if students didn’t go to the library, but the library came to them?

Wold’s Job Gutierrez, AIA, LEED AP, knows that today’s students bring diverse experiences and abilities. “They are growing up in a world where digital, social media and apps are the new paper, pencil and ruler,” said Gutierrez. “Students are also highly engaged with these channels – and with each other – which means they collaborate and interact in a number of ways. Generations learn differently and we are designing adaptable environments to best accommodate education and learning.”

In fact, Wold-designed schools report higher levels of student engagement and improved behavior throughout the building. Grades and test scores rise. Community demand increases. These schools become highly desirable because families want their children to learn in an innovative environment that offers the opportunities to thrive in the greater world.

Wold listens to what teachers and students need and then designs solutions for learning spaces that give teachers and students dynamic and flexible amenities.


“We have helped districts replace very old buildings with facilities that fit within the fabric of communities,” said Gutierrez. “The result is a design solution that allows for customized spaces that can accommodate a wide range of needs and programs, and easily adapt over time. It has completely transformed education in those communities.”

Wold’s 11 Design Elements for Innovative Learning:

  1. Flexible learning spaces to accommodate dynamic teaching
  2. Social hubs for collaborative learning and gatherings
  3. More ‘resource areas’ extending throughout the building
  4. Durable exterior structures with easily adaptable interiors
  5. Strategic design streamlining student movement within the building
  6. Vocational workspaces for large-scale learning
  7. Connectivity for technology-based learning
  8. Attention to regional, national and global learning trends
  9. Outdoor learning courtyards
  10. Portable furniture and classroom features
  11. Sustainable building features that double as teaching tools