How was safety factored into the design of the school?


School safety is critical. The school design is carefully reviewed with security consultants and local police all along the way. Along with a security system featuring internal and external cameras that is directly observable by local police, the system also includes secure glazing, door access control systems, intruder detection system and improved site circulation features design in coordination with local fire and police departments

Contrary to what you may assume, windowless schools are not what security professionals want to see. The goal is to use windows appropriately, installing secure glass and shade systems, and planning for the possibility of an event by allowing for movement out of harms way. As you watch the walkthrough, which is just a glimpse into what the school may be like, consider the points below:

The video you are looking at intentionally takes the camera through a variety of spaces that serve different purposes and include different kinds of window treatments based on what the room is connected to.  

At the entry/vestibules there are windows and doors that allow the school receptionist to see and control visitor entry from the reception area.  All of these windows are a special “school guard” glass which is extra resistant to impact such that the vestibule becomes a secured space that visitors cannot leave until they are approved for entry by the receptionist. 

The next area shows the student commons which has fairly abundant windows that look into a very secure courtyard that can only be accessed from within the school. The student commons is an appropriate space for students to work independently or together and to experience views of nature.  The intent of the design is to allow students to pass through or visit the courtyard during the school day rather than exit the school towards Rt. 9.  Countless studies have proven the benefits of exposure to  daylight, natural views, fresh air and movement for adolescent learners.  All glass facing the courtyard and all glass on the first floor exterior locations is laminated, vandalism resistant and contains motion detection sensors.  

The next set of windows along a hallway look into a large hands-on vocational studio where students are engaged in project-based learning (the animated students are not really doing a very good job of demonstrating this!).  The windows into this studio are intentional to allow everyone to see and celebrate students engaged in active, hands-on learning projects like limnology, soil science, plant propagation, etc.  This is a large, flexible room with areas that do not have windows to the hallway in order to allow for greater privacy.  The next classroom has fewer windows because it is a more traditional classroom where focused, quiet work needs to happen without interruption. The windows allow natural light into the hallway but don’t reveal the whole room.  

In all classrooms, including the vocational studios, the windows are designed to allow views into only a part of the room.  In the event of a lockdown there is always a safe space for students to remain out of view. Also, while you don’t see it yet in the model, all windows on the interior and exterior come with pulldown shade systems that can be used to block view into the room.