21st Century K-12 Schools Architecture and Engineering Design

What's your best memory from school? Is it a favorite teacher? Your best friend? A favorite game at recess?

As you reminisce on the "good old days," does the size of your classroom come to mind? What about the cafeteria? The library? Did you ever contemplate who designed your school? Most of us don't. We take the building, design, safety and security for granted.

Designing a school is not as simple as creating a cool building. There are district guidelines and standards to meet, community concerns to be addressed, as well as life-safety and energy codes that must be followed.

Start with the Student

Schemmer's recent design of the new Columbian Elementary School for Omaha Public Schools took an innovative approach to design. Unique to the project was the need for the existing school to remain operational while the replacement school was built on the same site. Molly Macklin, AIA, project architect, worked closely with the Educational Specifications (Ed Spec) Committee, the District, Columbian students and staff, as well as the surrounding neighborhood. The guiding principle of design was to ‘Combine the Traditions and Values of the Past with a Unique Vision for the Future.’

Student EngagementOPS Schemmer Columbian Elementary

Critical to the design process at Columbian was to get student input. Macklin worked on this project with the students. In 2018, she engaged the 4th, 5th and 6th graders in a student legacy project. Student engagement was divided into two working sessions, a small group student ambassador activity and grade level discussions. All students were given an opportunity to provide input and their ideas greatly shaped the design of the new school. Following are some of their collective ideas:

  • Preserve and incorporate existing student legacy projects
  • Create colorful and fun spaces with a lot of windows
  • Create a larger library with a treehouse to read in
  • Create an outdoor classroom to learn in
  • Create cubby holes to read in
  • Incorporate nature in the design

Student ambassadors from each grade worked with Molly to design a piece of artwork that will hang in the replacement school. The art piece, named "Our Legacy Tree," is composed of hexagon-shaped leaves cut from existing trees on-site that were demolished due to construction. Each student wrote three words that represented Columbian to them, as well as their name and years at the school on a piece of paper. Their words will be etched into the wood.

At Schemmer, we pride ourselves on quality and providing solutions that are driven by the needs and expectations of our K-12 clients - the STUDENTS!

Design Philosophy

  • Schooled in Effective Design. We know school design. Over the past three decades, Schemmer has successfully provided planning and design services for more than 80 K-12 schools. Our knowledge goes beyond experience. Our team keeps up with the latest trends to ensure we are designing facilities that meet today’s educational needs. We understand educational buildings need to be flexible in order to accommodate future change.
  • Passion For Quality Educational Design. Schemmer’s K-12 team is passionate about school facility design. We believe that facility design is vital for student learning, development and achievement. This guiding philosophy is cultivated as we approach design solutions to meet each school’s unique educational goals. Our team of experts creatively designs facilities and learning environments that are safe, comfortable, inspired and generate community pride.
  • Owner/Community Engagement Process. Schemmer offers an owner-driven process to ensure that our clients are instrumental in design of the facility. We creatively engage communities, students and staff as part of the process and draw on the inspiration derived from these school communities to deliver projects that are unique to each school’s values, needs and expectations.
  • Team Player. Successful projects begin with open team collaboration. Our priority is to create partnerships with our clients. These partnerships allow us to provide design solutions that maintain district goals and values. We understand the complexities of school projects and believe it takes a strong team with open communication to be successful. Schemmer prides ourselves on being exceptional listeners and our process is rooted in the ability to effectively listen and creatively produce solutions that exceed client expectations.
  • Commitment. The Schemmer team is fully committed to our clients and overall educational design excellence. We dedicate the time and energy needed to ensure project success. When you select Schemmer as your design partner, you will have a trustworthy, collaborative and reliable design firm fully committed to your project.

Visit our K-12 portfolio

Design with Purpose. Build with Confidence.

Schemmer is a full-service architecture, engineering and construction field services consultant. Providing responsible solutions for complex design and construction-related challenges.

Founded in 1959, we are grounded in our past but remain fully committed to the future. Located in three States and six offices throughout the Midwest, Schemmer is providing services to clients from coast-to-coast and border-to-border across the United States.

Schemmer's services include:

Contact Us Today!