STEM REMODEL + ADDITION AT CHURCHILL HIGH SCHOOL

Rowell Brokaw Architects, PC

STEM

This  remodel of Churchill High School’s former Industrial Arts building provided a home for the school’s new STEM (Science,Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) program. The original 11,500 sf building was designed to house wood and auto shop classroom facilities; it was later re-purposed to accommodate the Churchill Alternative High School. The STEM remodel and addition transforms the existing structure to provide 13,250 sf of daylit teaching areas and support spaces. 

The remodeled facility features spacious, flexible studio classrooms, along with project workshop, storage, and demonstration areas. The facility layout emphasizes connectivity between meeting, workshop, and outdoor areas, and all teaching areas are equipped with moveable furniture and state of the art digital equipment. The spaces allow community
professionals and higher education partners to directly engage STEM students through mentoring and projects. These outside connections, along with the program’s project-based learning frameworks, are designed to encourage real-world problem solving by building technical knowledge and fostering creativity. The first of its kind in the state of Oregon, the 
facility has the opportunity to become a regional hub for STEM education.

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The new STEM classroom does not look like your typical math classroom, or your old high school science lab—or even a shop class. It is something new altogether. It is a new approach to teaching Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEM). The first of its kind in Oregon, the remodeled building supports the pioneering STEM curriculum at Churchill High School. 

The design team transformed a utilitarian, windowless building that housed the former woodshop and auto repair shop. The task was to inspire kids while creating a space for a program that had yet to be defined. It must handle anything: robotics, vehicles, construction, and deconstruction—anything. It was fantastic luck that an old warehouse would be STEM’s first home. Why? Because it doesn't look like a classroom building. That alone makes it cool.

The new space is raw, industrial, flexible and real. It is a place where students can dream things up, solve problems and make things. The design targeted simple economical moves—daylight, openness and flexibility. But the most important design move was restraint—don’t overdo anything, allow for graceful change and keep it real. 

Students love it. Teachers love it.

The design strategically punctures the simple, utilitarian box to create connectivity between meeting, teaching, workshop and outdoor areas. From design through construction, this project proceeded at an extremely accelerated schedule and limited budget. The project was accomplished in a 3 month design period and a 3 month construction period at a cost of $110/sf.