ArTech looks to the Future

September 22nd, 2006 by Peter Schmelzer

ArTech Chart School Perspective

The Northfield School of Arts and Technology and Vivus Architecture and Design have collaborated to develop a master plan for their facility.

It was fun and interesting to get to know ArTech through this project, which was funded by a state planning grant and resulted in an application for a state and federal facilities improvement grant. We read and studied “The Language of School Design”, a book written by the internationally acclaimed charter school architecture firm, Fielding-Nair International. With school staff, we attended a four-hour seminar by Fielding Nair, did some sketching, and reviewed our design ideas on site with Jeff Lackney of FNI. This set the stage for a review of the existing facility, prioritization of improvements desired, and honing the facility to fit ArTech’s pedagogy.

ArTech Centrum

The educational model they are pursuing is a wholistic, individualized approach, allowing students to learn as they learn best. It requires a building that follows the “learning suite” model rather than the “cells-and-bells” model (traditional classrooms on both sides of a hallway). To that effect, the design evolved into an advisory area that is visually unified but functionally divided into four distinct parts, each of which is a learning suite. I won’t get into all the details (read the book and visit the school!), but through a series of design and review sessions, we arrived at an affordable and functional plan for improving the facility.

The next step is the application for the improvement grant, which is almost complete. By January 2007, the grant results will let us know if the work is really affordable or not.

If you have children in the 6th to 12th grade age group, you should look into ArTech. We were very impressed with the thoughtful, energetic enthusiasm of the staff and the strength of their program; enough so that our daughter now attends!

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