Flexible furniture complements modern learning environments across HISD

Construction at Grady Middle School, January 8, 2016.

Interior work is underway in the new wing at Grady Middle School.

With construction well underway on schools throughout HISD, a few are beginning to put the finishing touches on their buildings—including installation of furniture that will bring 21st century learning to life.

Under the bond program, a total of 40 schools are currently being built or renovated with flexible and innovative learning spaces. Inside of each building, flexible furniture will be included in the learning spaces to move beyond the traditional classroom of four walls, white board, and fixed desks and chairs.

“This is really going to be different from what we’ve ever done before because it is 21st century furniture,” said Dan Bankhead, HISD’s general manager of Facilities Design. “The furniture is fairly different from what was seen in schools before. In the early planning for the bond, our research showed that if you have a different type of furniture, you can impact the learning program.”

Selecting the right furniture for every campus began at the start of the design process, in which Project Advisory Teams made up of principals, community members, students and parents worked closely with architects to give input on what would be best suited for their campus.

Colorful soft seating, swivel chairs, tablet compartments, and collaborative desks are just a few examples of flexible furniture chosen to support the needs of each campus.

Expo provides examples of 21st century furniture for schools

“The influence behind picking the furniture was to think about the 21st century, and a lot has gone into how furniture improves the learning process,” said Marnique Thompson, HISD’s manager of Furniture, Fixture, and Equipment. “Instead of teaching in front of the room continuously, instructors will now have the ability to move around the room while they are giving instruction. And while they’re moving, the students have the ability to move around as well.”

At Grady Middle School, the campus will incorporate moveable furniture set for collaborative learning. With the addition, student capacity at the school will increase from 580 to 850.

Putting the final touches on Grady MS and Worthing HS

“The teacher desks and cabinet are on rollers so that they can be moved to accommodate the learning,” said Grady Principal Gretchen Kasper-Hoffman. “We have many open spaces where students can work on individual and small group projects [and] furniture was chosen to fit into those spaces. We focused more on the open spaces of the building for natural light and different learning spaces.”

Grady currently is slated to open its new two-story addition at the end of January and has a target move-in of first quarter 2016. North Houston Early College High School will follow and is set for completion in the second quarter of 2016 and to be ready for students for the 2016-2017 school year.