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The Innovation Center will ultimately help foster learning in a creative and collaborative way.
A VISION FOR EDUCATION
The Innovation Center of Science, Technology, Engineering and Media Center at the Baldwin School of Puerto Rico in Bayamón, is planned and designed as a new two-story, 16,800-square-foot building that will seek LEED Certification. It will be situated on the beautiful existing 23-acre campus of Baldwin, one of the premier independent English language schools on the Island.
The first floor is being developed around a Maker’s Space, a central classroom where students with mutual interests can work together on projects while sharing ideas, equipment and knowledge. The second floor of the Innovation Center will house the Upper School Media Center that will provide classroom spaces, small study group areas, and an open space that students can reconfigure as needed.
The building will create a hands-on learning experience meant to nourish the mind, nurture curiosity and encourage critical thinking. The school’s goals of student-led advancement in inquiry, problem-solving and critical thinking, are were influential pieces in defining the project’s vision.
The vision is materialized and transmitted through the choice of materials, the expression of the building make-up, and the undisguised building systems which allow the use of the building as an educational tool. The building itself is a classroom where students are exposed to technology, sustainability, mechanics and materials. The building design seeks to attempt to anticipate challenges and solve the problems of the future.
Just like the structure and composition of DNA molecules, the Innovation Center will be the physical representation of the school’s authentic DNA that’s embodied in their mission and vision. Baldwin’s authentic DNA is comprised of a set of values where Education, Innovation, Environment and Relationships interlock to become the epicenter where generations of students have the opportunity to challenge preconceived notions in their journey to become the future scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs of Puerto Rico. The authentic DNA concept is shown through the Innovation Center design, and it’s literally represented in the structure’s steel genetic sequence-like façade.
The architectural language of the Innovation Center respects the natural and man-made elements of its context. It deconstructs the existing campus building elements and reinforces the existing tropical architecture with the incorporation of passive design strategies like balconies, breezeways, long overhangs and daylighting. The Innovation Center opens up to the surrounding landscape allowing nature to come indoors. The roof of the building will also be habitable in order to provide additional educational experiences as well as areas for passive recreation and socialization.
The structure will be located adjacent to the existing School Cafeteria Building on the site currently occupied by the playground. The building placement and orientation along one of the primary pedestrian circulation routes on the school campus is intentional. It organizes the site and defines it as a quad while acting as a central anchor and connection between all the existing campus elements. It is a central hub of activity, providing equal access to all while enjoying optimum visibility.
The first floor of this world-class facility will be developed around a Maker’s Space. It’s a central classroom based on the principles of design thinking where education is a shared, hands-on experience. The design of the Maker’s Space is flexible and diverse in order to reinforce critical thinking and complex problem solving.
With a timeless and universal design, it’s able to accommodate a variety of learning needs and approaches. Additional spaces on the 1st floor like the Science Laboratories and a Fabrication Shop are placed around the Maker’s Space with visual proximity to it facilitating collaborative learning and shared investigation.
The second floor of the building will house the Upper School Media Center, an electronic library space fit for the 21st century that is a statement of philosophy and thinking by nurturing thought. The Media Center will provide classroom spaces, small study group spaces and an open area for mutual learning and individual workspaces. Additionally, a Physics Lab and two Math Classrooms are located within the Media Center.
The Second Floor also features an Executive Classroom for small school functions and faculty trainings, while the ample balcony is featured as an exterior learning, sports viewing, social space that integrates the building to its surroundings.
As a sustainable strategy, the main façade of the building responds to its orientation by incorporating a combination of clear insulated glass windows and translucent wall panels to provide a balance between solar glare protection and a visual connection to the immediate context. The translucent panels provide solar heat gain coefficients as low as .04, significantly reducing external heat loads. The building roof will also be equipped with green areas and photovoltaic power panels that also function as shading devices.
The innovative building design makes use of industrial elements, exposed building systems on the interior and use of glazing for passive daylighting strategies. Insulated concrete structures were chosen to improve the building’s overall energy efficiency and for acoustic control.
A BRIGHT FUTURE
Ultimately, the Innovation Center aims to become an activity center within the campus for both users and passer-byes through the offer of a diverse learning environment that is influenced by the senses.
This project represented a unique opportunity to integrate our design values which are holistic, intentional and sustainable, and contribute to the education in Puerto Rico and the future of our Island. The Baldwin Innovation Center is expected to be completed by 2022, so stay tuned!