- Market Education, Public Sector
- Industry K12
- Size 590,000
- Location Verona, WI
- Product Solutions Furniture
- Services Installation + Labor, Interior Design, Procurement, Product Specification, Project Management, Standards Program, Technical Support
- Case Study Download Now
As part of the master plan for the Verona Area School District, a new 590,000 square foot high school campus was constructed on 161-acres that includes a 3-story academic building built for a capacity of 2,200 students, a 1,000-seat performing arts center, a field house, athletic fields, a swimming pool and a separate, public pool.
An additional part of the master plan included converting the old high school to serve as the district’s new middle school. All of the existing furniture stayed with that building, which meant in the new space all of the classrooms, administrative areas, the library, the labs, and the atrium had to be furnished with new furniture.
The Verona Area School District worked closely with the architecture and design firm, Eppstein Uhen Architects (EUA), to determine their overall vision for the project. They wanted to embrace 21st century learning, which meant there would be less lecture and more active learning in classrooms. In this type of environment, the teacher doesn’t always end up at the head of the classroom, so they needed to be able to move their work stations around the room and not be tethered to the front.
“We wanted the furniture to be flexible. We wanted it to be light enough to move around with a variety of heights, both sitting heights and some standing heights. We also wanted to have comfortable seating in each classroom.”
– Pam Hammen, Principal of Verona High School
“They were looking for different modalities.” Said Abie Khatchadourian, Senior Project Manager, EUA. “More flexibility than we’ve traditionally seen.”
They wanted this flexibility to extend beyond just the classrooms to areas like in the open atrium space and even the science labs.
Henricksen developed several pilot classrooms for the teachers and students to experiment with while they were still occupying the old high school. The classrooms had a variety of furniture types and configurations, so users could see what they liked.
“We gathered a lot of input,” said Hammen. “People really appreciated it, and it was necessary so that we selected furniture that met our needs.”
Included in this testing were an assortment of whiteboards, but the students and faculty found most of them to be too large and heavy for their purposes. Henricksen helped to provide something custom that was smaller and more portable in order to meet the teachers’ needs. For easy storage when not in use, the whiteboards were designed to hang on the back of nesting tables.
Hooks were also installed on the classroom tables that were strong enough to hang backpacks, in order to mitigate the need for lockers.
For the furniture throughout the building, from the classrooms to the atrium, Henricksen worked closely with EUA to present a variety of fabrics and finishes for the client to choose from. The school colors are orange, black, and white, but the faculty wanted more variety and balance than just those colors. Enough options were provided for several color schemes to be presented to the district, and they were able to select different color schemes for different areas of the school, which helped with wayfinding throughout the space.
“I appreciated their expertise, how they gave me things to choose from and lots of authority to make final decisions,” said Hammen.
“There was nothing left to chance. Henricksen provided a 400-page document with everything spelled out. When you’ve got a building of that size and the vast majority is getting furniture, you have to get that furniture in and position it and ensure that everything is punch listed. I thought they did a really good job.”
– Abie Khatchadourian, Senior Project Manager at EUA
After the furniture was installed, the team at Henricksen created online training videos for the teachers to watch and learn how to use all the new products in a time when in-person training wasn’t an option due to COVID-19.
Today, throughout the whole facility, the students and staff have options. Where there was little variety in their old building, now there is integrated soft seating and standing height options to choose from in almost every space. Mobility and reconfigurability is also a common theme throughout. In the cafeteria there are standing height common tables and curved booths available to create alternate work spaces. There are even shelving units in the library with casters, allowing users to move and adapt spaces as needs rapidly change.
“We can design a brand-new building with moveable walls and flexible spaces, but unless the furnishings have the same principles, the building wont function as intended,” said Megan Walker, Senior Interior Designer, EUA. “Spaces are only successful if they work hand in hand with the furniture.”
“We have open collaborative areas now within the classrooms and even in the library there is a nice variety of work spaces,” said Hammen.