Allen STEAM Center: Learning Through Innovative Design
Allen, Texas – On August 14th, Allen ISD celebrated the opening of its newest campus, the Allen ISD STEAM Center. The STEAM Center supports innovative instruction across the district, offering Kindergarteners to 12th-grade students 111,000 square feet of increased exposure to science, technology, engineering, art, and math-integrated experiences.
“The Allen STEAM Center is an extremely unique facility which was designed for every student in our district,” said Daniel Pitcock, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Allen ISD. “What makes us unique is that our community supported a facility that was totally designed around every student in our district.”
In order to fully comprehend the instructional intent of the facility, VLK | CURATION® was employed. Together with the district, VLK discussed learning aspirations and visited STEM schools in the Seattle, Washington area, as well as learning studios in the Fort Worth Museum District. The experiences from VLK | CURATION® then informed VLK | LAUNCH® , involving students, teachers, administrators, community/business leaders, and Board Members. The VLK | LAUNCH® process facilitated the responsive conceptual design of the Allen ISD STEAM Center based on the beliefs of all involved. The two-story arc-shaped building was designed with separate high school STEAM and elementary/ middle school experience designated entrances. Each area, which is connected to the heart of the building, overlooks and connects to the shared learning environment which includes innovative learning hubs, subject-specific studios, and plenty of room for exploration and collaboration. The 250-seat Ellipse Theater supports large groups and provides a venue for younger students to be oriented to the STEAM Center upon arrival, as well as serving a variety of instructional purposes. The design integrates a rich outdoor setting, providing learning trails, and ecological zones for exploration. Outdoor learning spaces include a wetlands zone, various forest zones, a black land prairie, and a wildflower meadow that are accessible from indoor studios and collaboration spaces.
“VLK Architects and Allen ISD collaborated to create a comprehensive design that supports an integrated learning experience for students,” said Sloan Harris, Partner, VLK Architects. “This facility is unlike any other in the State. I am certain that the Allen STEAM Center will make a significant impact on generations of students for many years to come.”