Learnscape-Hickman Mills School District

LEARNSCAPE 2016

  • Hickman Mills School District
  • Baptiste Educational Center, Burke Elementary School

The fourth recipient of Hollis + Miller’s annual Learnscape was the Hickman Mills School District’s Compass Program. Compass is a project-based STEAM learning program centered at the Baptiste Educational Center. The design is created to engage sight, smell, touch, movement, balance and sound, capturing students’ desire to explore and learn through play.

Organized around a spiraling walkway, the design engages five sensory zones. The first zone focuses on the visual arts and includes easels, markerboards and display walls for art shows. Continuing along the path, the second zone transitions to an area focused on sense of smell. Fragrant plantings host a variety of colors, native fruits and berries throughout the fall and winter. Down the path, a ten-foot water table provides an opportunity for tactile play, science experiments and the occasional boat race. Students can then enter zone four, featuring an abstract architectural representation of a boulder using varying inclined planes to challenge students with movement and balance. The sound of students learning about rhythm tone can be heard throughout, as drums made from repurposed rain barrels and recycled drum skins anchor sensory zone five. Culminating the path at the center of the spiraling design is an amphitheater which can accomodate larger group gatherings.

Learnscape-Raytown Quality Schools

LEARNSCAPE 2019

  • Raytown Quality Schools
  • New Trails Early Learning Center & Three Trails Preschool

Nestled between an early childhood center as well as an elementary school, our emerging professionals had to navigate designing for a variety of ages, from 3-11 years old.

The 2019 Learnscape takes students on a “journey” of experiential learning. Designated areas of grasslands, desert, lagoon, forest and a bird’s nest prompt learning about nature and the types of animals that inhabit each climate. The design team of emerging professionals put themselves in the perspective of young learners and used their imagination to develop an outdoor learning environment where students can play and learn.
An impressive shade structure is the anchor of the Learnscape, providing protection from direct sunlight and casting unique shadows. It was constructed of cedar to ensure increased durability, and stone planters can be found at the base, providing a natural boundary for the group teaching area. Sensory tables give students an outlet to refine their fine motor skills and participate in hands-on learning. The tables can be incorporated into curriculum and teachers can demonstrate activities or can be used for free play. The “forest” was designed so students can weave in and out of the “trees.” Designed from the perspective of a young child, the poles bow inward toward the top, giving the wondrous illusion of being surrounded by treetops when they gaze at the sky.

Learnscape-Shawnee Mission School District

LEARNSCAPE 2018

  • Shawnee Mission School District
  • Sunflower Elementary School

An immersive outdoors experience is at Sunflower Elementary School’s students fingertips, with hands-on learning happening everywhere.

Hollis + Miller embarked on a Learnscape journey with SMSD and its students to create an outdoor classroom supporting the students’ desires and the district’s sustainability goals. As part of the process, the students identified their highest priorities for the district, which included incorporating school gardens and natural areas.
The completed space encourages students to discover the natural environment by interacting with the area in different ways. Students can study water conservation benefits by utilizing the on-site cistern as they tend to planter boxes created for each grade level to learn about lifecycles and ecology. A solar panel on the roof of a large, covered deck gives students an up-close connection to alternative energy sources. Even the area’s signage doubles as a musical instrument, teaching students about the physics of sound.

Learnscape-Grain Valley School District

LEARNSCAPE 2017

  • Grain Valley School District
  • Grain Valley High School

Located on a wooded site just South of Grain Valley High School, the concept was to produce and reveal a sense of coexistence among people, nature and technology.

Through design sessions with Grain Valley students and faculty, the idea to create a dominate walkway of varying heights linking learning spaces of diverse sizes took shape. A layer of technology was added to the site, paradoxically, to aid in the experience of the natural site. The major building materials were purposely kept simple – limestone gravel for the path, Cor-ten steel for the major horizontal and vertical elements, and cedar lumber for the deck. Keeping with our concept, the natural environment will slowly change the steel from grey to a dark red as it rusts, while just the opposite will happen to the cedar. It will slowly change from its natural reddish hue to steel grey over time. These materials speak to the ever-changing natural world. The path links several backdrops for education, including a gathering space for 20-30 students and staff, a collaboration space for smaller groups, a garden space to facilitate biological and botanical curriculum, and an observation area away from the noise of civilization meant to be a more quiet and contemplative space for individuals.