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PK Yonge Developmental Research Middle-High School

Gainesville, Florida
University of Florida College of Education

  • 75,000 sq. ft.
  • Associated Architect: SchenkelShultz

P.K. Yonge is a developmental research school affiliated with the University of Florida’s College of Education. Their mission is to design, test, and disseminate innovations in K-12 education. This three-story middle/high school accommodating 810 students was part of a master plan that trailblazed 21st Century learning spatial concepts. The design team was tasked with creating optimized learning environments for a diverse student population and innovative teaching approaches. Spaces needed to be open and flexible to foster creativity both for students and educators. The design solution included creating learning “neighborhoods” with large mixed grade level groups that facilitate project/experience-based learning, integrated technology, and collaboration. These neighborhoods are designed to be changeable, adapting to various teaching and learning styles. Furniture is easily reconfigured and adjusted and many options are provided to accommodate diverse learning needs. Various modular seating options and mobile shelf/book displays allow students to create new spaces throughout. To better support the larger student groups, instructor spaces are shared but visually connected to the rest of the neighborhood using all glass partitions. This feature is a favorite among teachers/facilitators and supports innovation and collaboration in real time. Neighborhoods are also designed to resemble modern workplaces where a variety of open collaboration and private/focused workspaces exist. Students learn to self-regulate while achieving their personal or shared goals. The materiality of the spaces seeks to express a connection to nature using biophilic patterns and refreshing, optimistic colors throughout. Wood veneers were selected from tree species native to Florida. In the learning studios light neutrals reflect and amplify natural light. The three-story common space connects students by incorporating views down on the active entry space featuring a beautiful multi color glass wall and a three-story school pride graphic. Overall, the interior spaces of PK Yonge Middle/High School exemplify an elegant, adaptive educational environment.