By RITA DUCKWORTH
FAIRVIEW HEIGHTS — Woolpert is in the final planning stages of an $80 million elementary school for the Department of Defense Education Activity on Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. Project Architect William Tongay, RA is leading the design of the facility which will serve approximately 800 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students whose parents are stationed on the installation.
DoDEA has recently revamped its educational specifications to incorporate today’s 21st Century concepts, which foster a more student-centered approach to teaching through increased flexibility, hands-on learning and technology. Their goals are being accomplished through the design of the building itself, as well as the curriculum.
“Unlike the traditional design of classrooms off a main corridor,” explains Tongay, “the concept involves a series of “neighborhoods” with centralized learning hubs.” These open areas have several “learning studios” adjacent to them. Movable glass and solid partitions allow for numerous configurations and adaptability of the space, which encourages team teaching as well as multiple ways of learning. The spaces can accommodate various learning styles such as hands-on activities, multi-media/technology, and social interaction.
“An enormous amount of flexibility is built into this facility,” says Tongay. “There are areas for group learning, one-on-one instruction, and staff collaboration.”
The job is a joint venture between Woolpert and KZF.
“Woolpert is managing the project, and is responsible for architecture and overall coordination. KZF is responsible for the interior design, mechanical, electrical and civil engineering,” Tongay said.
Managing an international project comes with challenges. Okinawa has a limited work force. Because it is an American military base, American standards must be met. “There’s careful coordination on how materials are intermingled, and Japanese products are used whenever possible,” says Tongay.
Okinawa experiences six to eight typhoons a year, which creates additional design challenges. The building will be constructed of reinforced concrete and designed to withstand the extreme weather conditions as well as incorporate anti-terrorism features.
Construction on the 140,000-square-foot facility is projected to begin in 2017.