AUGUST 4, 2020
With each new level of returning to normalcy, society has a lot of questions. How do I shop? Are restaurants safe? Does chlorine in pools kill COVID-19? Can we play sports? And now the question of the month—how do we return to school?
The CDC has put together a checklist for school administrators about opening schools. There is no doubt processes will change for cleaning, social distancing and health screening. Schools also have begun to think about their spaces and how to redefine them for proper use to meet the guidelines.
With that, construction projects will be on the horizon. Watch for bids for school retrofit projects, and determine how you can be part of this growing market. For new construction, architects predict it will take about five years to see how COVID-19 will change designs. It simply takes time to alter plans, funding and materials as doctors and epidemiologists learn more about the disease and its impact.
There are some changes that architects already see coming. For instance, handwashing stations will be incorporated inside and outside of classrooms. The color palettes and sensory experiences of schools will evolve. Schools traditionally are designed to optimize learning and suppress negativity (bullying, depression, etc.), and the importance of design solutions could increase. Architects believe calming and stimulating colors like green and blue, a connection to nature and the texture of materials all will matter even more in education. Did you know curves also have been shown to soften design elements and set the stage for a calm environment? It is very true.
Architects expect the flow of hallways to be controlled with one-way signs or arrows on the floors, similar to what we already experience in stores. This will prevent students from gathering in clusters in the halls. Architects probably will need to find visual directives for students because kids are not always the best listeners. Curves have been used in schools to softly direct traffic to common areas, different hallways, other wings or adjacent buildings. Put simply, curves dictate movement and flow.
Food service/preparation will need to be examined. Some schools are talking about students remaining in one classroom all day, including for snacks and lunch, while teachers move throughout the day. For the schools that can handle the hygiene and disinfection requirements that come with food preparation, curves might be a way to highlight different food stations in a cafeteria, as well as hand hygiene, trash/recycling and other areas. It worked for Rainmaker Buffet at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn. JCJ Architecture filled the interior with curves by using Flex-C Arch and Flex-C Trac by Flex-Ability Concepts, installed by Interior Building Contractors in Cheshire, Conn.
Christie Pezzetta, senior associate/senior project designer at JCJ Architecture, said about the project: “The curves express a modern, streamlined and straightforward approach to the buffet line. The layout provides the versatility to change and update the menu and food layout for holidays or special events. The curves maximize counter space and add movement and geometry to enable spotlighting of the made-to-order action stations.” The list of what school administrators, architects, staff and parents have to consider is a long one. Everything from nurses’ stations, HVAC systems with additional filtration and furniture design is on the list. It will be an interesting journey to see how schools will evolve to include health and spatial concerns like they never have before.
Know that we will be following the trend and supporting architects, school districts, private educators, contractors and communities along the way. We are proud of the schools already filled with curves and cannot wait to see a proliferation of curves in the future. You can view this video to discover what a local Oklahoma school did with our products to advance education design.