North Kansas City School District

Students in Academically Gifted Education

Kansas City, Missouri

Project Info
North Kansas City School District
Kansas City, Missouri

Completion Date: 2016
Size: 33,800 Square Feet
Grades: K-5
Students: 250

The Students in Academically Gifted Education (SAGE) project began when the City of Gladstone and North Kansas City School District collaborated on a new innovation campus, which would provide space for both businesses and school district programming. Perkins+Will designed the interior fit-out with the goal of creating authentic learning experiences, amplifying student engagement, and bolstering wellness among students and staff. This project was designed in association with Hoefer Wysocki Architects.

On a daily basis, the facility serves approximately 250 students. These students are comprised of 50 “Profoundly Exceptionally Gifted Students” who attend the facility full-time, and 200 students who attend once a week. Students only spend 5% of their time listening to lectures while the rest of their time is split between researching, creating, performing, and socializing.

The interior design scheme includes forward-thinking design trends such as a maker space, green room, and other collaborative learning areas. Each space is defined by rich colors and separated by clearly marked walkways, offering visual connections to neighboring learning environments. These visual connections increase interdisciplinary thinking among students as they move freely throughout the space. No longer stationary, teachers have continuous views of the children as they interact.

Today’s elementary school students will enter a workforce that prioritizes soft skills, flexibility, and solutions-oriented problem solving that integrates with technology. This idea is consistent with current research, and the Perkins+Will team designed SAGE with the future in mind. Spaces throughout the building are completely adaptable to a variety of learning needs and project types: classes move fluidly between areas for direct instruction, group work, individual learning, and socializing.

This wide range of activities is supported by specialized spaces including a maker space, robotics lab, broadcast studio, presentation space, gender-neutral bathrooms and collaborative learning studios. Technology is well-integrated throughout the building: students build their skills with future-focused activities such as programming drones and robots, operating equipment in the broadcast studio, and designing and prototyping products with the 3D printers.

The open floor plan allows the teachers to decide which areas best support their activities, resulting in more flexibility and collaboration between staff. Teachers are not assigned classrooms or desks, offering freedom of movement not seen in traditional schools. Since SAGE students are typically allowed to decide where and how they complete assignments, the non-stationary teachers can monitor students who might not be officially in their “class” if necessary.

A large, easily accessible staircase encourages activity and socialization as research proves that students engage and learn better when movement is woven into the school day. Rather than just being reserved for recess, physical activity is how students and staff move around their space and is often encouraged as part of classroom activities. Teachers can take their classes outside for lessons on the outdoor terrace, and large windows flood the interior with natural light. This access to the outdoors and to daylight improves mental and physical well-being, allowing students to fully engage with their learning.

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