Process on Display
The new Vancouver iTech Preparatory building was designed to nurture the minds and aspirations of tomorrow's great innovators.
It is home to Vancouver Public School's early college "School of choice," STEM-focused program. The 80,711 sf facility serves up to 700 students in grades 6 through 12 and is conveniently located at the east entrance of Washington State University Vancouver. This allows iTech students to attend college classes and connect with mentors from both institutions.
Much of the project work at iTech is done in an open setting, showcasing processes in real-time with no barriers to visibility. The facility is designed to encourage collaboration among students and teachers across grade levels and disciplines, creating an environment that lends itself to open dialogue. The building’s design further accentuates this open mode of operation by centering the labs, collaboration spaces, and workshops around the gathering and presentation stair. This stair acts as a central point to showcase iTech’s unique curriculum.
The school’s curriculum focuses on project-based learning, weaving multiple subjects together and requiring students to think about a problem from multiple angles. This progressive approach is reflected throughout the design and in the building’s story. Each of the spaces and classrooms connects through a grand central area for presentations and events, showcasing students’ work and organically supporting peer-to-peer collaboration. This goes to the root of iTech’s central theme, “process on display.”
Movement and Fitness
Part of iTech's innovative learning environment is the natural integration of elements that promote wellness, movement, and mental health. One of the school's signature features is the "turfnasium," a reimagined turf gymnasium that brings the outdoors in. The infusion of outdoor play space places emphasis on the connection between mental and physical health. And true to the schools encouragements of "outside the box" thinking, the Turfnasium offers a unique and fun location to play and exercise.
Daylight and Connection to Nature
The building takes its shape and aesthetic from the surrounding topography and foliage, harmonizing its interior elements with the natural elements outside. This includes orienting it to maximize natural daylighting levels and views of the building’s natural surroundings, both of which have proven neurological benefits to students in learning environments.
Display and Interactivity
Designed for use as an educational tool, the building design expresses the science and technology inherent in the infrastructure and support systems. The spaces within and around the building encourage student and faculty interaction and the free exchange of ideas and concepts in STEM. One such space in the Collaboratorium further enables students to test their designs. Another thoughtful design feature are rain gardens, flanking the main entry, meant to show students how storm-water infiltrates into the ground.