Science Lab, Plymouth North High School - Plymouth, MA

Technology is enhancing the methodology in which teachers and students collaborate, communicate, facilitate, and advance the cause of learning and investigation. Ai3 Architects employs technology in the educational environment to foster social and collaborative learning, create specialized and adaptable learning environments, integration of sensory-rich educational and social experiences, and to facilitate the backbone needed for project-based learning environments. Although the physical shape, configuration, and overall organization of the educational environment will always be a key component in fostering 21st Century learning, the integration of technology is quickly becoming the most critical component of a fast-paced, flexible, secure, and comprehensive learning environment. Often referred to as a "tool" in the past, technology has become such an integral part of the educational environment that it is just as critical as the walls, floors, and ceilings that form the framework of the physical environment.

Over the past 10 years, designers have treated key technology systems and components as "Add-ons", assuming that they are not a critical component of the built environment and can be easily retrofitted after-the-fact. During this same 10 year period, Ai3 Architects have taken the opposite approach; creating our own in-house architectural technology design team focused purely on the holistic approach of advancing technological information, concepts, and strategies, within the educational environment and ensuring the seamless integration of these technologies into our sophisticated educational environments. Our research confirms students and teachers in environments which include the seamless integration of advanced technology systems are out-performing their peers all over the country and throughout the world. Classrooms, laboratories, project rooms, corridors, lecture halls, offices, auditoriums, gymnasiums... literally every space within the building have all become "Smarter" as a result of our push toward full technology submersion in the educational environment. In the past, Technology used to mean adding computers in the classroom but today computers are only a small part of the learning environment, as other integrated technologies have emerged to create a technology rich environment where investigation, collaboration, and inspiration are commonplace... students are learning to "Think" and to "Solve", in lieu of simply being fed information... and the results will define the future of education.

Our holistic approach of advancing technological information, concepts, and strategies within the educational environment includes the following:

-Completely wireless environments with WAPS (wireless access points) integrally incorporated into the construction to allow for unlimited device access and uninterrupted service throughout the campus, streaming large scale video and data files in all areas.
-Integrated interactive white boards and LCD projection seamlessly incorporated into all academic spaces, capable of streaming large scale video files to the interactive white boards.
-Voice amplification and sound reinforcement systems balanced with classroom acoustics to insure that each participant receives clean, crisp, audible communication within the learning environment. This enhancement has proven to provide tremendous benefits to all participants, not just those with hearing or communication challenges.
-Integration of security systems that combine cameras, card reader access, access control and monitoring, and electronic building lock-down options to provide a safe, secure learning environment.
-Daylight Harvesting Systems automatically adjusts or dims the artificial light to the appropriate level when natural daylight is present.
-Photovoltaic systems which capture available solar power and reduce overall building energy consumption.
-Automated heating, cooling, and ventilation systems which monitor the number of building occupants in a particular room or space and automatically adjust for maximized air quality and substance.
-IPTV systems which allows HD media anywhere, anytime, on any device optimized for rich-media services. The IPTV systems are designed to run on a IP network platform that is network-aware, media-aware, and device-aware which delivers more personal, social, and interactive media experiences.
-Bi-directional Amplifier and Antennae Systems that allows amplification of emergency responders' communication devices, as well as administrators two way radio communication devices.
-Intrusion Detection Systems composed of motion detectors and door contacts which are programmed to dial the central office when an alarm is detected by motion or through forced entry. The system includes panic buttons at selected locations which can automatically emergency dial 911.
-Integrated sound systems designed into the performance, broadcasting, and lecture learning environments offering students and teachers sensory-rich educational and social experiences.
-Educational broadcasting and recording studios offering students a holistic approach to journalism and adaptable learning environments in broadcasting through editing studios, recording studios, control rooms, and studio space.

Ai3 Architects integrates the design of all these critical technology componets and systems in close collaboration with Owners, educational users, and in-house design team members to ensure seamless integration in every phase of the building design.