By Roland Tang
For the past decade, CTA Construction has had the privilege of building schools that transform the way we learn.
These new structures adhere to new design principles that not only make buildings perform better when it comes to reduced energy usage and improved indoor air quality, but they also enhance the effectiveness of learning and enrich the experience for students young and old.
Classrooms, such as those in the new West Bridgewater Middle/Senior High School and Park Avenue Elementary School in Webster, designed by Flansburgh Architects and Dore & Whittier Architects respectively, and both under construction, have become “student centered”. They are specifically designed to be flexible, where furniture can be rearranged to foster group learning and collaboration, while the “teacher centered” orientation can still be maintained when formal instructions are conducted. Increasingly, spaces within the schools have been redesigned to allow cross-discipline learning. Science laboratories, art studios, history classrooms, have all been grouped closer together to allow and encourage students to learn across curriculum. Corridors have widened to become common spaces for informal gathering, student interaction and idea exchange.
The traditional libraries within these schools are no longer necessarily quiet rooms confined by walls, but have become learning commons – multi-media centers supported by computer labs that allow student to access, evaluate and retain information from a variety of sources. Expanded connectivity will continue to transform the methods and speed by which our students will have access to information and therefore, learn.
The gymnasium and fitness areas have also been transformed to allow more natural lighting through skylights and specially designed and placed clearstory windows, while minimizing glare on the floors. To further enhance the function of the schools and community experience of the students, cafeterias have now become multi-purpose rooms. These traditional dining areas can now be opened up and reconfigured to allow after school functions and community events. Auditorium and performing art centers have also become accessible to the public, with security measures worked into the operational logistics.
This transformation of spaces also takes place at learning and community centers for our seniors. The Marlborough Senior Center designed by Courtstreet Architects and being constructed by CTA Construction is a building that features a large multi-purpose room, a library, computer room and dedicated space for games, fitness, arts and crafts. Like the schools, these spaces have been designed with the flexibility to accommodate a variety of programs and functions for both the seniors and the community.
Another CTA project, the new Dracut Town Hall, that we are currently collaborating with architect, Johnson Roberts Associates, will also provide town officials and the local residents with an energy efficient civic building that will enhance their sense of community.
As construction goes into full swing in 2014, we will continue to see improvement to not only the CTA projects described here, but to the many academic and civic buildings across Massachusetts. These enhancements in design will have a significant positive impact on our students’ achievement, and improvement on the quality of life for our seniors and communities. CTA is proud to be part of this investment in our future.
Roland Tang is V.P., business development at CTA Construction Co. Inc