Creating a Safe and Community-Oriented Environment to Foster Responsibility and Respect

Pasadena Unified School District, Blair International Baccalaureate Middle School, Pasadena, California

Blair Middle School is an 800-student facility located in the Pasadena Unified School District and is part of a larger campus that shares gymnasium and support services with Blair High School. The sixth-through-eighth-grade facility includes universal classrooms, science classrooms with lab support spaces, a multi-purpose space, a large art classroom, food service and administrative offices.

The design creates a safe and community-oriented environment that fosters responsibility and respect within the student body — preparing students for the rigors and challenges of high school. The planning began with the community courtyard that invites interaction and collaboration among students. A “home away from home,” the middle school’s configuration creates a community within itself, giving the educational environment a distinct space separate from the outside world.

“Universal classrooms” enable instruction from both an informal and formal setting within a multi-team structure; the ability to change viewing direction and fully use the whole room to adjust to variable classroom environments stimulates learning. The classrooms have large floor-to-ceiling windows, giving balanced light to the interior — a relief from the traditional classroom interior.