Oak Park Unified School District approached their furnishings and finishes as intentionally as the building itself – with the goal of supporting their district-wide sustainability values and instructional program. This story is featured in the spring issue of Learning By Design Magazine, in partnership with Shaw Contract, and we are delighted to share it here.
Shipping containers, if not recycled, are left to collect at The Port of Los Angeles after use, rarely making the return trip for repeat use. Following the success of implementing these sustainable classrooms on their high school campus, Oak Park Unified School District (OPUSD) plans to build more indoor/outdoor learning studios at each campus district-wide.
Time and again we’ve experienced that the best learning environments and learning outcomes are created when all stakeholders work together from the outset. Shaw Contract’s recent project, a partnership with the district’s leadership team and Natural Pod, resulted in a beautiful and functional space that will have a positive impact on students and educators for years to come.
“It’s really important that as we make long-term investments in the community that we want the things we purchase to be long-lasting. We don’t want to build this wonderful, long-lasting school and then fill it with furniture and finishes that we have to replace every three years. That wouldn’t help us reach our sustainability goals. Furnishings and finishes in our classrooms must reflect our values and desires to spend wisely and must work with the instructional program.” – Jay Greenlinger, Ed.D., Director of Curriculum & Instruction at Oak Park Unified School District.
Equipped with open access to outdoor seating and table arrangements, shade structures and trees, the indoor/outdoor design enriches the possibilities for project-based learning and discovery. Each of the six learning studios, made from three shipping containers each, was constructed with wide sliding doors that open onto a central courtyard so teaching and learning can flow into the outdoors, welcoming in California’s sunshine for natural light and views of nature.
Early conversations allowed the desired learning experiences to shape the needs of the spaces and be intentionally supported through durable flooring, movable furniture, and a strong sustainability story for interior elements that support the long- term, responsible sourcing and material health goals OPUSD holds for the district.
These elements were further illustrated as important during challenges presented by COVID-19, where physical distancing and cleanability were of the utmost importance. The shipping container classrooms at OPUSD will serve the students and educators upon their safe return to school, and for many years to come, due to the thoughtful, adaptable, and durable foundation that was set, collaboratively.