easy website creator

Designing for the Next Generation of Student Learning to Prepare Them for the World

FRIDAY | APRIL 3, 2020

9:30 AM - 10:30 AM

Room: Rock Creek

This session will profile how local business and industry inspired the design of the new Upper Merion Area High School (UMAHS) in King of Prussia, a suburb of Philadelphia. Speakers will include the Superintendent of Schools, the architectural firm SCHRADERGROUP, local business leaders and students to discuss the educational limitations of the existing traditional high school designed in the 1960s as compared to the design of the new high school. The panel will discuss how simulating the college and work environment at the high school level will be instrumental to prepare UMASD students as they transition to higher education and the work environment, as well as providing new opportunities to partner with local businesses. The new facility will provide career and higher education level spaces to engage in interactive learning activities of research, develop and present. Multiple hi-tech industry workspaces; a core curriculum academic wing, with a STEAM based central core, is connected by 3-story learning stairs; and multiple project and team-based spaces integrated throughout the school offer collaborative and research based learning opportunities in flexible spaces to compliment the changes in how students are taught and learn. A true “student commons” is at the heart of the facility and will be used throughout the day for multiple activities. The two-story commons, with learning resources located on the second level to enhance the research and project-based components, is mixed use space with dining and food-based opportunities like that found in local colleges and universities. The case study of Upper Merion Area High School offers further opportunities to all students at the secondary level, grades 6-12. The proposed high school was deliberately designed to provide a physical connection to the existing 6-8 middle school to stimulate the opportunities inherent within a “secondary campus” ... where student learning is based on content learning rather than age-based and process-based learning. The direct access to the high school provides the opportunity for middle school students to take courses relevant to their interests across the grade structures as opposed to within their grade and age specific learning spaces, and to take advantage of the athletic venues to improve wellness and promote physical activity. At the end of this program, participants will have a key understanding of how space design and the delivery of education and student learning is changing to meet the academic, social and physical needs of the students today to prepare them for the future.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will understand how designing buildings supports 21st Century Learning
  2. Participants will have an understanding that spaces can be designed to reflect current business models
  3. Participants will understand how it is possible to provide opportunities across multiple grade levels for advanced course offerings
  4. Participants will be able to compare students' reflection on their learning experience in a traditional post-industrial school versus learning spaces centered around self direct learning environments


  • David Schrader, AIA, LEED AP, Managing Partner and Lead Academic Programmer, Planner and Designer, SCHRADERGROUP architecture LLC
  • Dr. John Toleno, EdD Superintendent, Upper Merion Area School District



March 18-20, 2021   Washington, D.C.

Follow Us