A State-of-the-Art Learning Facility Puts Student Needs First
When you walk into the new West Bloomfield Middle School, the first impression is “wow.” The building was designed to meet the needs of 21st Century learners and educators, with flexible spaces filled with light, color and welcoming touches. NBS worked with architectural and design firm French Associates, Inc. to create a school environment that will meet the needs of “Laker Nation” for years to come.
The new school was built to house up to 1,200 students, combining populations from two older middle schools. In addition to modernizing instructional spaces, the Board wanted the school to be a showcase for the district to help them attract and retain students and families. They also wanted to support their Small Learning Community model, which divides the school into six smaller “houses” led by teacher teams.
The two-story I-Center welcomes students and visitors with its stunning “wave” roof and high windows, which bring in plenty of natural light. The I-Center acts as a lobby, media center, and social or collaborative space. Rows of low bookshelves fill the center, framed by tables with soft seating and individual study carrels. The Learning Stairs—which act as both a traditional staircase and a casual seating area—create a focal point for the room that is sure to be a hit with students. Underneath the stairs, students will find a unique small stage for presentations.
To support collaborative learning and cross-curricular projects, classrooms in each of the six houses open to a “community pod” by way of garage doors. These flexible spaces are equipped with different kinds of seating—including large tables and chairs, high counters, and lounge areas—to support different learning styles and project types. Students can use this space for discussion, presentations, project creation, and hands-on collaborative learning. Large displays enable multimedia projects and presentations. Mobile furniture found in classrooms and shared spaces allow students to easily reconfigure based on learning requirements.
Another highlight is the “Auditeria,” a combined auditorium and cafeteria space that creates new possibilities for community events. Tables and chairs used at lunch can be easily folded and stowed away to make room for more auditorium seating, depending on the needs of the event. Tiered levels ensure optimal viewing of the stage for everyone.
NBS provided space planning and interior design services, including furnishings and finishings for interior and exterior spaces. More than 50 coordinated upholstery colors and patterns are used throughout the building. Bright blues, greens, and yellows, offset by soft grays and light wood, create an environment that is airy and cheerful without being distracting or overwhelming. Color is also used for wayfinding and to distinguish the collaboration areas for the different houses.
The district is thrilled with the results. Amy Hughes, the Principal of West Bloomfield Middle School, says, “The new space has exceeded our expectations! There are many spaces that have ‘wowed’ us.” She also appreciates how easy it was to work with NBS. “Working with NBS was a super-positive experience. We definitely leaned on them for their expertise and knowledge from start to finish. Their passion and commitment to providing us with the highest level of service and product were evident in every interaction we had with them. Their responsiveness and high level of customer service were really second to none!”
Learn more about West Bloomfield Middle School: wbsd.org/west-bloomfield-middle-school
Photography by Rick Lipski