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Press Kit
| no: 1456-03
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Press kit - Press release - Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign

Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community

Rockford, United States

CannonDesign

Rockford's new prototype school is designed with students for students.


Chicago, United States, 2019-06-10 -

Children are a segment of the population with essentially zero political power. Any power they do hold is by proxy. The process and resulting solution for Rockford Public Schools’ new K-5 prototype school pivots this dynamic, designing with students rather than for them. This architecture is community.

 

During discovery meetings with the school principal, the design team learned the district holds “morning briefings” with their students, many of whom have disadvantageous, difficult and even traumatic home lives. The briefings are designed to help students release any negative energy they may hold, so they can best take in new information and collaborate with peers throughout the day.

 

Recognizing the importance of these “morning briefings” with students, our team identified a need for more programmatic space to ensure they could occur and students could best thrive. Balancing budget and space constraints, the design team in collaboration with Rockford 4th grade students designed a covered town hall at the center of the building. The town hall unites the school’s gymnasium, cafeteria, art spaces, library and other public spaces while providing a home for the briefings.

 

The central town hall is surrounded by grade-level learning communities specifically designed to the needs of the distinct age groupings: kindergarten, first and second, third and fourth and fifth grades. As a result of engaging students in the design process, the school moves away from traditional features - such as long corridors and fixed, immovable classroom objects that inhibit interaction and skill development - to embrace a more open village design concept. This concept creates hubs for connection throughout the building and enhances a sense of community. In the case of the Rockford K-5 prototype school, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts.

 

The architecture engages children directly, at once both stimulating and educational. It inherently responds to the reality that entering kindergarten - in this case an 86,000 SF building - can be a remarkably difficult transition and intimidating experience. Influenced by the drawings of children, the design team created unique kindergarten spaces that are visible from the street to help eliminate any intimidation. Each space has unique geometric windows with different colors that break the scale of the school down to the one room schoolhouse, allowing kindergarten students to understand their space in the larger community. The windows, installed near floor level, are irresistible to the kindergartners, beckoning them to engage with the world around them.

 

This geometric strategy extends to other spaces throughout the building where students learn while playing. With integrated furniture, the students learn mass and void relationships in the physical world. This spatial reasoning is essential for their development. In the learning communities, the soft, moveable furniture is designed to be pushed, pulled, and repositioned any way the students desire. Their collaboration, community, and experience is remade by them each day.


Finally, the architecture of the whole is designed to reflect the larger community of Rockford, Illinois. Drawing on the community’s agrarian and industrial roots, the 86,000-sf facility is broken down into smaller, identifiable masses, reflecting the student’s understanding of architecture and place. Looking at both the macro (history, community, culture) and the micro (postures, cognitive development, learning styles) the design team synthesized a new prototype for both the students and the community.


Data Sheet
Official Name of the Project: Rockford Public Schools District 205, Elementary School

Location: Rockford, IL
Size: 86,000 SF

Completed: 2018

Architecture Firm:  CannonDesign

Project Director: Stuart Brodsky

Design Principal: Robert Benson

Photographers: Christopher Barrett and Robert Benson


More About CannonDesign
CannonDesign is an integrated global design firm that unites a dynamic team of architects, engineers, industry experts and builders driven by a singular goal - to help solve their clients' and society's greatest challenges. The firm's design teams partner with clients across a multitude of industries including healthcare, education, science + technology, corporate/commercial, civic and sports. In both 2017 and 2019, Fast Company named CannonDesign one of the world's most innovative architecture companies.

- 30 -


Media contact
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Inspired by Rockford’s agrarian and industrial heritage, the building creates an inviting community beacon. Inspired by their notion of architecture and home, as drawn by the students, the form takes on additional meeting through the use of color and shape. These elements become easily identifiable by the younger students and provide identity as they break down the scale of the building.<br> - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Inspired by Rockford’s agrarian and industrial heritage, the building creates an inviting community beacon. Inspired by their notion of architecture and home, as drawn by the students, the form takes on additional meeting through the use of color and shape. These elements become easily identifiable by the younger students and provide identity as they break down the scale of the building.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
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Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 2.89
300dpi

~ 360 KB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - The school engages children on their level in multi-dimensional ways. - Photo credit: Robert Benson
The school engages children on their level in multi-dimensional ways.
Photo credit: Robert Benson
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10.03 x 6.67
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~ 5.3 MB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Main Entry at Town Hall flex-space. The main shared space for the school for gathering and play, features abundant natural light paired with a dividing wall that engages students through color and mass/void relationships to enhance learning.<br> - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Main Entry at Town Hall flex-space. The main shared space for the school for gathering and play, features abundant natural light paired with a dividing wall that engages students through color and mass/void relationships to enhance learning.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
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Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 5.67
300dpi

~ 980 KB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - All activities in the school begin and end in the town hall space: student arrival, art, food, gym, meetings, safe and supervised play. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
All activities in the school begin and end in the town hall space: student arrival, art, food, gym, meetings, safe and supervised play.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
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8.5 x 6.03
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~ 1.2 MB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - At capacity, the hub space provides daylight and a variety of seating types that engage the students. Furniture is paired with the interior mass walls for flexibility, storage and learning through shape and color. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
At capacity, the hub space provides daylight and a variety of seating types that engage the students. Furniture is paired with the interior mass walls for flexibility, storage and learning through shape and color.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 5.67
300dpi

~ 1.2 MB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Interior design and architecture are integrated to create a cohesive design narrative, always focusing on the scale of the student. Detailed relationships enhance awareness of light, mass and color. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Interior design and architecture are integrated to create a cohesive design narrative, always focusing on the scale of the student. Detailed relationships enhance awareness of light, mass and color.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 8.5
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Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Moveable foam furniture and corridors that incorporate engaging colors and shapes encourage students to move around, engage and interact with each other in between classes. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Moveable foam furniture and corridors that incorporate engaging colors and shapes encourage students to move around, engage and interact with each other in between classes.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
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Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 6.44
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~ 1000 KB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - The library opens directly onto the town hall hub. Activities begin to spill out of their confines and take place within an open - yet secure - environment. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
The library opens directly onto the town hall hub. Activities begin to spill out of their confines and take place within an open - yet secure - environment.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 5.84
300dpi

~ 1 MB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - The metaphor of home and village is carried throughout. Spaces for gathering and break-out provide the students the spaces they need in order to engage at their own comfort. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
The metaphor of home and village is carried throughout. Spaces for gathering and break-out provide the students the spaces they need in order to engage at their own comfort.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 6.29
300dpi

~ 1.3 MB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - The library and media center, host a variety of seating options for both groups and individual learning. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
The library and media center, host a variety of seating options for both groups and individual learning.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 5.85
300dpi

~ 1.1 MB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - The gymnasium opens to the town hall space creating visual and physical connections, expanding the use of the space, and bringing daylight into the environment. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
The gymnasium opens to the town hall space creating visual and physical connections, expanding the use of the space, and bringing daylight into the environment.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 5.81
300dpi

~ 870 KB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - 1st and 2nd grade classrooms surround a protected learning commons with access to abundant natural light and allow for supervision of the students by all teachers. These breakout spaces can be reconfigured and are flexible to support multiple learning styles. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
1st and 2nd grade classrooms surround a protected learning commons with access to abundant natural light and allow for supervision of the students by all teachers. These breakout spaces can be reconfigured and are flexible to support multiple learning styles.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 6.42
300dpi

~ 1.3 MB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - 3rd through 5th grades have classrooms at the exterior with an adjacent learning commons located just off the circulation, allowing the older, more independent students to have a transition zone between circulation and classrooms. These breakout spaces can be reconfigured and are flexible to support multiple learning styles. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
3rd through 5th grades have classrooms at the exterior with an adjacent learning commons located just off the circulation, allowing the older, more independent students to have a transition zone between circulation and classrooms. These breakout spaces can be reconfigured and are flexible to support multiple learning styles.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 6.13
300dpi

~ 1.3 MB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Different grade levels are easily identified from the exterior of the building through changes in color and massing. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Different grade levels are easily identified from the exterior of the building through changes in color and massing.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
Download
Medium-resolution image
8.5 x 5.8
300dpi

~ 830 KB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - The exterior of the buildings feature a variety of materials, colors and patterns, inviting students and community members. - Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
The exterior of the buildings feature a variety of materials, colors and patterns, inviting students and community members.
Photo credit: Christopher Barrett
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8.5 x 4.95
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~ 890 KB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Rockford's new K-5 school is an architecture for community. - Photo credit: Robert Benson
Rockford's new K-5 school is an architecture for community.
Photo credit: Robert Benson
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9.69 x 6.63
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Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Workshops with students developed new ways of seeing how the young children recognized, interacted and inhabited their own spaces. These ideas would be integral into developing the architecture of the building and interior spaces. - Photo credit: Rockford Public Schools / CannonDesign
Workshops with students developed new ways of seeing how the young children recognized, interacted and inhabited their own spaces. These ideas would be integral into developing the architecture of the building and interior spaces.
Photo credit: Rockford Public Schools / CannonDesign
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Medium-resolution image
5.51 x 2.34
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~ 370 KB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Early concept sketch of village design by students - Photo credit: Rockford Public Schools
Early concept sketch of village design by students
Photo credit: Rockford Public Schools
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8.5 x 4.79
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~ 300 KB
Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Concept sketch of village design, indicating color and form for the kindergarten learning commons. - Photo credit: Robert Benson
Concept sketch of village design, indicating color and form for the kindergarten learning commons.
Photo credit: Robert Benson
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Medium-resolution image
6.83 x 2.61
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Press kit | 1456-03 - Press release | Rockford Public Schools K-5 Prototype School: Architecture as Community - CannonDesign - Institutional Architecture - Plan Perspective of Rockford Public Schools - Photo credit: CannonDesign
Plan Perspective of Rockford Public Schools
Photo credit: CannonDesign
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5.37 x 3.34
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