Ashley McGraw designs Groton modern learning environment

Ashley McGraw Architects designed the new STEAM lab and shared-learning space at the renovated Groton Central School District.

Groton, New York— Ashley McGraw Architects designed the new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) lab and shared-learning space at the renovated Groton Central School District.

For the $4.8 million, 8,000-square-foot space, the design firm said it merged the district’s curriculum with the overarching concept using form, light and materials to create a modern learning environment where both teachers and students will feel valued, focused and inquisitive. “As opposed to a traditional classroom where students are taught in a rigid box-like setting, this STEAM center was designed as a dynamic interactive place that engages students and teachers in learning,” said Ashley McGraw’s Mike Frisina, an architect and design tech manager at the firm.

The center was created — in collaboration with school district superintendent, Margo Martin — to be a place where students want to hang out, according to the firm. The center’s floor plan features transparent and flexible spaces of varying sizes. This mirrors the design of contemporary higher-education and corporate office environments that encourage independent work as well as spontaneous collaboration. The former dreary basement at Groton Junior-Senior High School is now said to be a colorful, sun-lit, biophilia-influenced lounge fitted with high-tech, enhanced screens, workstations, adaptable furniture and state-of-the-art energy-efficient lighting and HVAC systems. Nearly every surface is a writing surface, including the glass walls that enclose the space, to encourage spontaneous creativity and ideation.

“We believe young people will come here and discover their passion, develop their foundational skills and utilize the center’s resources so they can be successful entering college or the workforce,” said Catherine Wolfe, a senior interior designer at Ashley McGraw.

The multi-purpose space — complete with a photo, video and music editing studio — will be used for a variety of educational programs that are industry-aligned, including: Building Trades, Computer Science, Engineering & Electronics, Agriculture Technology and Communications & Media Arts.

“This STEAM lab is poised to become a regenerative project for us,” Wolfe said. “And by that, we mean that we expect the center will work toward helping students develop new skills and also help restore the fabric of the surrounding community on environmental, social and economic levels. We like to think that the ‘A’ in STEAM is not only for ‘arts’, but also for ‘accessibility.’ We hope this center continues to evolve into not just something exclusively for students but as a space for everybody and that celebrates the learner as an individual.”

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