Variety School is a special-education school for students aged 5 to 22, relocated from a 50-year-old existing campus. The school specializes in students with autism, mental challenges and emotional challenges. Each group is provided a different classroom hub whose color scheme provides distinct identity and wayfinding. The color schemes merge in common spaces, including ASSOCIATED FIRMMartin Harris Construction, Design-BuildCAPACITY288COST PER SQ FT$173.66FEATURED IN2013 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized multipurpose room, gym and a shared activity space. Emphasis was placed on designing spaces to fit and enhance the school’s curriculum.
A vocational hub teaches skills including food preparation and service, laundry, graphics and recycling. An independent living space simulates an apartment for students to learn daily life skills. Common outdoor spaces include a playground, walking track, sport courts and a gardening area. Classroom hubs contain courtyards, which also serve to add depth to a long street-facing facade. The strategy of placing the building on the street with entrances focused inward prevents the need for a perimeter fence and a fire lane, maximizing usable site area while strengthening the connection of the school’s positive participation in the community.