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K-12 School Offices The Front Door to Supportive Learning Environments - Part 1

July 28, 2022

As leaders in K-12 school design, we have witnessed how important offices are to the long-term success of a school. They are the school’s heart, providing critical resources for students, staff, and the community. We connected with Kate Egan, an architect and design specialist at Bray, to help us identify some of the most important lessons about K-12 school offices that we’ve learned from our recent collaborations with school districts across the Midwest.

Creating Welcoming Spaces

“School offices are an important part of any community,” says Kate. “They’re a special front door that not only welcomes students to the school, but also families to the community. It’s important that the office feels safe and comfortable.”

Here are some considerations that help create welcoming offices.

Exterior Canopies Aid Wayfinding

Entry canopies are the gateway to the school and its office. They are a wayfinding feature that can help reduce confusion for young students and visitors who are unfamiliar with the school’s layout.

An exterior view of the main entrance at Highland View Elementary in the Greendale School District
The prominent entry canopy at Highland View Elementary School helps students and visitors find their way to the school’s office.

Environmental Branding Communicates Personality

School offices often provide an opportunity to create a first impression on students, staff, and visitors as they walk through the front doors. They are prime locations to incorporate environmental branding, which communicates the school’s identity and exudes school pride.

School colors and a wall mural at Waukesha's Butler Middle School remind reception visitors that "Best" means "building everyone's success together"
The “B.E.S.T.” wall graphic at Butler Middle School connects visitors to the school’s vision.

Design for Comfort and Accessibility

Lounge-style furniture, carpeting, and a mix of task and overhead lighting create a comfortable and calming office environment. Large windows offer ample daylight, a known factor in improving student and staff wellbeing.

Soft lighting, windows, and comfortable furniture help make the office comfortable for students and visitors.
Soft lighting, windows, and comfortable furniture help make the office at Little Chute Intermediate, Middle, and High School comfortable for students and visitors.

When we work with school district teams to design their offices, we also ensure that at least some portions of the desks are low enough to accommodate students and visitors in wheelchairs. We pair this with an elevated tier that provides a comfortable surface height for standing visitors and privacy for the staff’s computer screens, which may display confidential student information.

Windows line a reception and office area with ample space for approaching visitors at Wheatland Center School
The desk at Wheatland Center School includes a lowered section to accommodate individuals in wheelchairs. The raised section accommodates standing individuals and hides confidential information on computer monitors.

Let’s Work Together

Are you considering a new or renovated school office as part of your next building project? We’d love to hear from you. As your trusted partner, we’ll work closely with you to find the most thoughtful and adaptable solutions that fit your timeline and budget.

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