In this installment of our Ask an Engineering Expert series, April L. Halling, P.E., Project Engineer at RTM Engineering Consultants, answers the question: What trends do you see in designing K-12 schools?
RTM has worked on a wide variety of education projects, ranging from elementary schools to universities. K-12 schools, both public and private, have particular needs for different spaces. An elementary school cafeteria, a middle school gymnasium, and a high school theater, for instance, all have unique requirements.
High school facilities are increasingly offering advanced education courses requiring specialized facility spaces, such as science labs that include vacuum, compressed air, and natural gas distribution systems. These systems need special shut-off and isolation controls to ensure student safety. RTM’s diverse portfolio allows us to address unique challenges and design systems for any type of educational space.
The biggest trend we’re seeing at the moment in K-12 schools is creating more open, flexible, and collaborative spaces. It’s reflective of what we’ve been seeing for years in commercial office spaces. By using movable walls and centralized common spaces, we’re able to build areas that can adapt to serve a single classroom or a combination of several grade levels at one time.
Another trend we see on the horizon is the ability for schools to change the color temperature of lighting. Some studies have found that simulating natural sun patterns and synchronizing with students’ circadian rhythm can boost concentration and improve behavioral health. For example, this customization will allow schools to shift to a cooler color temperature, like 4100K, to improve concentration during testing times, and back to a warmer color temperature during other times to reduce stress and create a relaxing environment.
We are always looking for ways to deliver creative and cost-effective solutions in educational facilities, factoring in initial costs and long-term costs as we develop flexible and comfortable learning environments.
Learn more about RTM’s education expertise.