Media Center / STEM Spaces

Location:  Romulus, NY

Completed:  2020

Program:  Media Center, STEM/STEAM

Construction Type:  Renovation

Award:  2021 Citation for Design 

Following the community vote to remain an independent district and not merge with a neighboring school, the district entered a long-range planning initiative which reviewed all aspects of the educational process and their facilities. The district wanted to relaunch the school and so the “Romulus 2.0” design process began.

The district identified the highest priority as the entire high school 2nd floor of the 1937 portion of the original building. Undersized classrooms and the traditional double loaded corridor were showing their age. Additionally, there was inadequate space for group work and break out lessons, resulting in students often laying on the floors. The cafeteria was similarly in bad shape with spaces not renovated since 1949 and 1967. The cafeteria had an institutional feel with outdated infrastructure and supported no other use besides eating. The last area identified to renovate was the media center. Not renovated or updated since 1965, with worn finishes and poor layout, created an uninviting space and no visibility from the corridor.

The king + king team went to work, partnering with the district to identify their goals for these spaces which was centered on the student experience and spaces that support team teaching and interdisciplinary/ cross-curricular learning. Enlarging the classrooms on the second floor and creating nooks in the walls of the corridors and break-out spaces, transformed the corridor into an active informal teaching space. This design strategy encourages students to work together and socialize outside of their classrooms while creating opportunities for learning. The cafeteria renovation was redesigned with an energizing use of color and defines various seating areas with furniture and ceiling design elements.  Portions can be easily transformed for larger events, while the middle/ high school side encourages use throughout the school day as a student commons space. The media center renovation includes new large glass walls to the corridor to invite students in and better bridge the media centers function with the rest of the school. Bold color helps to define different zones and highlight the various learning space from the classroom to the multi-functional maker space. 

Overall, the district set out to create space tailored to their small school community with a strong focus on student learning and well-being. The design team took on the challenge with the confinement of a renovation, without adding additional square footage, and seamlessly incorporated student centric design solutions in spaces that support multiple functions through the day.