Move over chalkboards. Writing on the walls has been given an upgrade, along with the latest trends in teaching at Kinkaid's new Learning Center, designed by Kirksey's Education PK-12 Team. In today's school, learning is no longer confined by four walls or traditional teaching methods. As Krissy Venosdale, the Innovation Coordinator at The Kinkaid School writes on her blog, "The idea that we don't have classrooms with a 'sage on the stage' anymore is not new. But it's still taking so much time too much time to catch on."

However, the new Kinkaid Learning Center, designed by Kirksey Architecture's PK-12 Education Team, was intended with just that purpose in mind and it's putting these new concepts into action.

After opening for the 2016 school year, the success and enjoyment of its new "maker space" and flexible learning environments is evident in students and teachers alike. It's one thing to design new maker spaces, and another to see them in action over the course of a full school year.

Making Maker Spaces Work
It may sound like a new buzzword, but the term "maker space" has been around for several years. Taken literally, it is meant to evoke a space in which to make to expand students' creativity while instilling lifelong skills within a flexible and more real-world learning environment that doesn't adhere to traditional teaching methods.

Think: a crafting space, a sewing area, a custom laser printer for printing the school's own signage, a 3D printing space, walls where students are allowed even encouraged to write, and transportable "pop-up" maker spaces that can move from classroom to classroom. All of these are tangible hands-on learning environments inside the walls of Kinkaid's new learning center that houses middle school classrooms and a dining hall.

When Kirksey set out designing the spaces, the goal became very clear: let's do it differently, and with more creativity than ever before.

Check out even more coverage of Kinkaid's new maker spaces in Building Design + Construction's Great Solutions article.

At Kinkaid, it's not only ok to write on the walls -- it's encouraged.

Inside "The Nest," a workshop maker space within the new Kinkaid Learning Center in Houston, designed by Kirksey Architecture.


Aerial view of the new Kinkaid Learning Center and Dining Hall, surrounding the Quadrangle outdoor courtyard.

Flexible furniture invites students to study while encouraging collaboration.

During a "visioning workshop," students and teachers were asked to create an ideal environment for the new learning center / middle school classrooms. They thought outside the box and each group came back with new ideas. Kirksey designed the new Learning Center and Dining Hall around these discoveries.

Colorful classrooms invite natural light in with floor-to-ceiling windows and encourage student interaction with moveable furniture and flexible collaboration spaces.


Dry-erase walls between two classrooms slide apart to create one large classroom and encourage co-teaching. For example, if a literature teacher is covering Chaucer, and the history teacher next door is focusing on the Middle Ages, they can realistically "break down walls" and share subject matter by combining rooms.