Brookview Elementary School, part of the Stillwater (Minn.) Area Public Schools, received AIA Minnesota’s highest recognition for design at the association’s annual Conference on Architecture in November. The newly opened school was one of only four projects to be recognized this year with the Honor Award.
“The way students are taught has evolved dramatically in the last several years. With Brookview, we were able to create an environment that does more than enhance teaching. It elevates students to learn in different settings beyond the classroom,” said Steve Berg, AIA, BWBR’s project manager for the school. “The school district embraced Brookview’s innovative design and planning, and we’re honored to see such effort be rewarded by the AIA.”
Serving students in pre-kindergarten through 5th grade, BWBR designed the 74,000-square-foot school with collaboration as its central focus. The distinctive solution splits the school into smaller learning communities utilizing three pods that feature a Learning Commons where students find an identifiable space to gather and grow and teachers can expand learning opportunities beyond the formal classroom. High ceilings, bright colors, and abundant daylight enrich the student experience and stimulate both the academic and social aspect of the space.
Layers of spaces are the hallmark of Brookview Elementary. A central zone houses shared student spaces, including a learning resource center, gymnasium, cafeteria, and special education, music, and art classrooms. Bright circulation corridors connect the shared spaces to the learning communities.
As a place of community, culture, socializing and learning, the school entrance was envisioned more as a front porch to welcome and invite students and families into an active and inspiring environment. In the cafeteria, the expanse of segmented glass windows provide views to the play areas outside, making the connection between structured and unstructured activities while adding visual interest to the space.
“The goal was to design an environment that would make students excited to be at school and give teachers and staff spaces that could make learning a more active experience,” said BWBR’s Laura Flynn, a designer on Brookview. “Design provides an opportunity to shape how children experience their surroundings. With Brookview, these students get to experience something uplifting and positive.”
Brookview Elementary is the first new elementary school to be built in the Stillwater school district since 1998. Located in Woodbury, Minn., the school has the capacity to serve approximately 450 students in a growing part of the district.