Connecting the Built Environment, Community, and Curriculum: Butner Elementary
PlusUs worked with architectural design firm Parkhill, Smith & Cooper, to design 20 interventions that connect school community, physical space, and curriculum in a project-based elementary school. The school’s identity system is rooted in a desire to develop global citizens. Sections of the school are designed to represent the seven different continents.
The learning interventions are designed to reflect the school’s commitment to P21’s Framework for 21st Century Learning, The Buck Institute’s Gold Standard PBL guide, VIF International’s Global Competence Indicators, and elementary grade level Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards.
In addition, we developed a curriculum framework that assists teachers in building inquiry-driven lesson plans around these interventions.
Environmental Graphic Design
Print and Signage Design
The Hall of Oceans and Seas is a to-scale mural that explores underwater aquatic life including a 37ft long giant squid, a coral reef ecosystem, and a 17ft smack of jellyfish. Younger learners can use this as an opportunity to quantify, estimate, and compare different sizes and values. Older learners are prompted with questions that ask them to think critically about humankind's impact on our waterways.
The Welcome Wall is located in the entry of the school and features a warm multilingual greeting, an energy monitoring dashboard, school wayfinding, and an interactive travel map that allows a particularly transient group of students to share their global experiences.
As a part of the school's global identity system each neighborhood is named after a continent. Imagery outside of each neighborhood door introduces the continent by name, location on a map, and a large satellite image. The stunning satellite imagery naturally inspires wonder and encourages students and teachers to contemplate human impact on the natural landscape.
A modular wayfinding system is employed throughout the building. The custom system guides the community and its visitors through the school's seven continents using color, clear typography, and a 3-dimensional aspect intended to point specifically in a location's direction.
Infographics surrounding the water fountains and bottle refill station explore the different roles water plays in our world. By touching on topics like health, access, consumption, and waste, the infographics help students make the connection between their own water usage and global water issues.
A pegboard wall near the outdoor classroom provides students access to tools and materials that enhance the outdoor learning environment by promoting organic exploration and examination of nature.
A curriculum framework that helps teachers use the school building and the learning interventions in their classroom lessons. The framework gives educators non-prescriptive prompts, resources, and standards to assist in building inquiry-driven lesson plans.