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School Design Supports and Reinforces New Educational Models

Through client collaboration and integrated art and architecture, a leading national architect with specialty in primary education delivers a sustainable, early-ages facility designed to support the Reggio Emilia pedagogical model. The result uses visual cues for student orientation and also addresses an urban community’s racial inequities in delivering education.

Representing a new paradigm for pre-K schools and a turning point for the community it serves, a new building for Goodwin College’s Early Childhood Magnet School (ECMS) opened this autumn on the higher-education institution’s East Hartford, Connecticut campus. Architecture, art and advisory firm Svigals + Partners designed the 34,000-square-foot building to serve 240 preschool and kindergarten students and a staff of educators and educators-in-training. The design addresses three major challenges for the school and the surrounding communities:

• Layout and materials support the Reggio Emilia model for childhood education, helping to emphasize self-discovery, connection to larger community and the importance of nature.

Examples include colored floor tiles and ornamental patterns that guide children through the facility.

• Sustainably designed, the school is part of an overall strategy employed by the college to remediate blighted, formerly industrial brownfield along the Connecticut River.

• As an interdistrict magnet school, the facility supports an approach to community access that addresses longstanding racial inequities and de facto segregation. This has been required by law following a 1996 court decision, with education providers in the state competing to provide effective solutions, which ECMS successfully accomplishes.

Notably, Goodwin College will eventually host three magnet schools total on its campus, the first higher-education institution to have that many.

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