ABOUT: Bishop Ward High School Library Design

Established in 1908, Bishop Ward High School in Kansas City stands as a longstanding private Catholic institution. Renowned for its captivating architecture and rooted in a history tied to the construction of its present building during the Great Depression, the school prioritizes academic excellence, compassion and civic responsibility.

Engaging closely with every family to ensure scholarship accessibility, Bishop Ward maintains class sizes varying from five to 30 students and boasts a student-teacher ratio of one to 11, fostering a personalized and supportive learning environment.

before images of school media room

SITUATION: Shifting Away From Traditional Classroom Design

The COVID-19 pandemic globally altered the landscape of student learning, shifting away from traditional classrooms. Instead, students gained the freedom to choose unconventional study locations, such as on a sofa, the floor or even outdoors, aiming to enhance the comfort of their learning experiences. Returning to fixed seating posed challenging for students accustomed to the flexibility of remote learning.

school media room layout design idea

The mix of furniture in Bishop Ward’s school library did not match the modern look and feel they wanted for a contemporary learning space. To address this, the school decided to transform the library into a flexible and active area. The goal was not just to stay competitive in the changing educational landscape but also to justify the investment parents, alumni and the community had made in the school.

The primary problem revolved around the presence of outdated and bulky furniture, hindering easy rearrangement. Both staff and students sought furniture that could be effortlessly moved for different purposes, including collaborative academic projects or individual focused work.

The objective was to establish a versatile space capable of accommodating both one-on-one mentoring sessions and larger faculty meetings. The vision was to create a comfortable and functional hub, promoting smooth collaboration and adaptation to diverse needs. 

Acknowledging the increasing popularity of game-based learning, the school aimed to establish a designated area for electronic sports (esports) – a space where the curriculum revolves around standards-based and peer-approved organized competitive video gaming.

This initiative aimed to bridge generational gaps and foster a more positive view of the sport. Importantly, it would also open up the possibility for students to earn scholarships based on their abilities.

They really brought our vision to life, and they were wonderful guides. If we wanted something, they were never trying to talk you out of it. They let you have what you wanted, and they also did a good job of balancing what you selected and the better choice. Everything had a reason and an explanation for why it would work.

Dr. Emily Saatcioglu

A major motivation was to transform the library into a welcoming space. Creating a positive environment is crucial because it enables students to envision themselves succeeding in various scenarios. Dr. Emily Saatcioglu, the Academic Dean, emphasized the significance of this endeavor in fostering a supportive and inspiring atmosphere for students.

“Sometimes, students struggle to see themselves in certain places. When they visit a college, they might question if they fit in or if there are others like them. Our aim is to show them that they do belong. By giving them hands-on experiences here, we want to boost their confidence so they can believe in themselves and seize those opportunities,” explained Saatcioglu.

redesigned classroom furniture

SOLUTION: An Immersive Interactive Design Showcase

Bishop Ward teamed up with Scott Rice Education Solutions to develop a student-focused learning environment. The journey began with an innovative fundraising strategy.

Scott Rice organized an interactive design showcase that included projected images and hands-on interaction with actual furniture pieces during an auction night. This immersive experience not only generated enthusiasm but also exceeded financial targets, laying a solid foundation for the entire project.

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The inclusion of both formal and informal furniture options was customized to meet diverse needs, creating a comfortable and collaborative atmosphere. Strategically placed lounge areas, adjustable furniture and high-top tables were introduced to infuse a modern and lively ambiance, addressing the crucial elements of flexibility and adaptability.

To address the challenge posed by heavy furniture, flip-top tables were introduced, enhancing versatility in configuring the space for various activities and discussions.

seating area lounge education design

Efforts to optimize space utilization involved overcoming obstacles such as working around permanent radiators and maximizing natural light through tall windows. The redesigned rectangular room eliminated a fixed front, promoting flexibility and collaboration through wall-mounted projections.

Scott Rice’s meticulous attention to visual identity, aligning colors with the school’s branding, not only refreshed the aesthetic but also reinforced the school’s identity. 

A specially designated esports arena now buzzes with excitement, boasting projectors on both walls and communal gaming setups featuring 15 computers. Beyond just catering to the gaming community, this space serves as an academic nucleus for various classes, adding to an inclusive and spirited educational environment.

RESULTS: Collaborative and Inclusive Media Room and Library Design

Rebranded as the Cyclone Center, the renovated library exemplifies the transformation of a conventional space into a multipurpose learning environment. It actively promotes collaboration, adaptability and inclusivity, instilling greater confidence in students and fostering a supportive educational atmosphere.

As the academic heart of the school, the Cyclone Center hosts classroom learning and mentoring programs, meetings and events, thereby enhancing the school’s capabilities. 

“When students see the school investing in a caring and exciting learning environment like the Cyclone Center, it makes them genuinely excited to come to school,” said Lance Snodgrass, Education Consultant at Scott Rice Furniture. “This space represents the future of education, providing a dedicated and versatile place for students during school days, teacher meetings and prospective student discussions.”

rendering and final side by side school media room redesign

Revitalized from its underutilized state, the Cyclone Center now serves the needs of both students and staff. Its versatile and functional design caters to a range of activities, spanning from esports and computer-based classes to solo-focused learning and collaborative student presentations, making it both enjoyable and practical. 

“Whether you’re a parent or an alum, it surprises people. As you stroll through our building, you might think it’s an old, charming place. But then, there’s this stunning space that stands out. It’s like you opened the double doors and stepped into heaven – it’s truly mind-blowing,” Saatcioglu said. “It’s the space our students deserve.”

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Spark Creativity and Success with Scott Rice Furniture

Crafting the ideal educational environment isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavor; it’s about creating spaces that nurture innovation and creativity, empowering educators to collaborate seamlessly with their colleagues. That’s where Scott Rice Furniture comes in.

If you’re eager to transform your educational spaces into vibrant hubs of learning, it’s time to make the move and modernize. Contact us today and discover how our design solutions can make a real difference!

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