Oculus - Fall 2012 - (Page 32)

feature ©Albert Vecerka/Esto Schools Made to Order BY CLA I R E W I L S O N his is a tale of two schools: the Blue School in Manhattan, and REED Academy in Oakland, New Jersey. Blue School is cutting edge, private, and geared to bright students. It is located in a downtown building that the Rockwell Group adapted to its progressive education methods. REED, an acronym for Resources for Effective Educational Development, is private, non-profit, innovative, and housed in a new, purpose-built structure in an industrial area. It was designed by WXY Architecture + Urban Design to meet the unique needs of 32 autistic students. Different students, different settings, one thing in common: an environment in which each individual can learn at his or her own pace. As REED President Rick Klinenberg puts it, “It’s like having 32 kids and 32 different classrooms.” ©Paul Warchol A focus on flexibility provides ideal learning environments for two vastly different kinds of students T REED Academy, founded in 2003, does not have 32 actual classrooms, but is a composite of multiple flexible spaces designed to teach academics as well as life skills that challenge people with autism. These include bathing, cleaning, cooking, going to the dentist, and getting a haircut. The building had to accommodate all these different functions while remaining simple. “Parts look like people’s houses, and parts look like a normal suburban school so students can feel like they are in a school,” says WXY Principal Claire Weisz, AIA. “But most of what’s done here happens outside a regular classroom.” The A-shaped, 25,300-square-foot, single-story building starts out cozy and then goes grand, according to Weisz. The main entrance is intimate, 32 Oculus Fall 2012 drawing visitors inside from a large parking lot to a central common room with bright, high ceilings and an open feel. Whimsical eyebrow dormers let light flow in for much of the day, an amenity that is part of a sustainability agenda throughout the project. “We wanted to create as much natural light as possible,” Weisz explains. That bright common room at the center is the main gathering place, a focus of the program in which interaction among youngsters is of prime importance. Students are as young as 3, and can remain matriculated until they’re 21, all learning at a different pace. They learn from each other and from individual instructors at REED, where the student/teacher ratio is one-to-one. Classrooms along the outer walls of the main corridors of each leg of the building are scattered among the instruction areas dedicated to life skills, and are likewise awash in light. Life-skills rooms are equipped with elaborate kitchens, mock apartments, laundry facilities, barber chairs, high-tech dentist chairs, lockers, showers, and hotel suites Learning Curve http://www.naylornetwork.com/arc-nxt/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Oculus - Fall 2012

Letter from the President: The Future: Here and Now
Of Ladybugs and Learning
Center Highlights
Manhattanville Shuffl e: A no-real-community-here might just become one
Opener: The New Learning Landscape
Oh, the Places We’ll Go!
One Firm, Two Schools of Thought
Schools Made to Order
Expanding Architecture Beyond Form and Function
New Kids on the Boards
Real Solutions at Harlem’s Edge
The Future of Architecture Since 1889
Aalto and America
The Mythic Modern: Architectural Expeditions into the Spirit of Place
Schlepping Through Ambivalence: Essays on an American Architectural Condition
The Harlem Edge | Cultivating Connections 2012 Biennial Ideas Competition
A pioneering example of Modernism in New York is the 1931 New School for Social Research building by Joseph Urban
The Young and the Edgeless
Alphabetical and Categorical Index

Oculus - Fall 2012