The Business Economics Education Foundation (BEEF/Best Prep) coordinated efforts to develop the Minnesota Business Academy (MBA) with St. Paul Public Schools, the city of St. Paul, the Capital City Partnership, the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce and local business leaders. The MBA is a year-round facility, housed in the former Science Museum of Minnesota, that served COST PER SQ FT$64.00FEATURED IN2002 Educational Interiors2002 Architectural PortfolioINTERIOR CATEGORYCommon Areas students in grades 9-12 in 2001-02.
In this reuse facility, students create a personal learning plan with help from teachers, parents and mentors from the business community. The education-business partnership grows each year, and business people can help structure the curriculum, mentor and offer internships. Students also have received grants from the Department of Children, Families and Learning for entrepreneurial projects. The school uses a nontraditional restructured day and year-round schedule.
One of the greatest challenges was starting a new school. Fund raisers and recruitment advertising campaigns raised money and created awareness. The faculty had never worked together, and the students were new to one another. Coordination and trust were key to survival. This school was given a blank slate and an opportunity to fill it in its own way.
The school is designed as a laboratory setting in which business-economics education is integrated within the curriculum. In addition to a different approach to curriculum, the design of the facility will bring about a new way of looking at educational facilities and the services they provide. The exhibit spaces on all three floors are used as open, flexible classroom space surrounded by individual student office workstations with access to administration/staff areas. Windows were added to the exterior, and the former Omni Theater space was modified to accommodate presentations and performances.
The renovation of the former Science museum in downtown St. Paul has been recognized by the business and educational communities as an ideal reuse of the building. As a startup school, the budget was small, and each space within the existing building was designed for maximum benefit.