Jouett and Walton Middle School Learning Lab Modernization

This is a relatively small but important project for Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) and two of their middle schools. The entirety of ACPS administration, principals, and teachers wanted this work to be symbolic of the school system’s prioritization of contemporary, student-centered learning environments.

This project transforms traditionally austere, monotonous classrooms into vibrant learning labs that allow students to choose among large, medium, and small rooms with varying characteristics and accommodations. In turn, this allows students to take responsibility for finding their own passions.

This project supported a pedagogical desire on behalf of teachers and administration to transform science curriculum to be STEM- and STEAM-focused and encouraging of cross-disciplinary collaborations between grades and subjects. The design process incorporated administrator, teacher, and student feedback in order to balance long term, county-wide visionary goals with day-to-day needs of the principals, teachers, and students.


The design intent focused on enhancing three core concepts:

1) Re-Imagine Space and Creativity: VMDO was charged with transforming the worst classrooms at each school into the best learning environments. Rather than creating 3-4 autonomous curriculum-centered classrooms, the design fosters a learner-centered interdisciplinary architecture that dissolves unnecessary boundaries between teaching, learning, and creativity. New spatial opportunities support student passions, engagement, and talents while also empowering STE(A)M project work with places that inspire inventing and tinkering.

2) Craft: The design focuses on quality, impactful interventions rather than stretching the scope of work. These interventions empower students to see opportunities in their learning through interaction with inspirational interior environments and materials.

3) Systems Organization: The design combines strong graphics and furniture strategies together into one cohesive educational atmospherein support of a variety of teaching methods and work arrangements and with an acknowledgement that “learning can happen anywhere.”

This is a relatively small but important project for Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) and two of their middle schools. The entirety of ACPS administration, principals, and teachers wanted this work to be symbolic of the school system’s prioritization of contemporary, student-centered learning environments.

This project transforms traditionally austere, monotonous classrooms into vibrant learning labs that allow students to choose among large, medium, and small rooms with varying characteristics and accommodations. In turn, this allows students to take responsibility for finding their own passions.

This project supported a pedagogical desire on behalf of teachers and administration to transform science curriculum to be STEM- and STEAM-focused and encouraging of cross-disciplinary collaborations between grades and subjects. The design process incorporated administrator, teacher, and student feedback in order to balance long term, county-wide visionary goals with day-to-day needs of the principals, teachers, and students.


The design intent focused on enhancing three core concepts:

1) Re-Imagine Space and Creativity: VMDO was charged with transforming the worst classrooms at each school into the best learning environments. Rather than creating 3-4 autonomous curriculum-centered classrooms, the design fosters a learner-centered interdisciplinary architecture that dissolves unnecessary boundaries between teaching, learning, and creativity. New spatial opportunities support student passions, engagement, and talents while also empowering STE(A)M project work with places that inspire inventing and tinkering.

2) Craft: The design focuses on quality, impactful interventions rather than stretching the scope of work. These interventions empower students to see opportunities in their learning through interaction with inspirational interior environments and materials.

3) Systems Organization: The design combines strong graphics and furniture strategies together into one cohesive educational atmospherein support of a variety of teaching methods and work arrangements and with an acknowledgement that “learning can happen anywhere.”

Jouett and Walton Middle School Learning Lab Modernization
Jouett and Walton Middle School Learning Lab Modernization
Jouett and Walton Middle School Learning Lab Modernization
Jouett and Walton Middle School Learning Lab Modernization

Client: Albemarle County Public Schools

Location: Charlottesville, VA

Discipline: Middle & High Schools

Completion: 2018

Size: 5,100 SF