How to design a school of the future

Several years ago, Greenville County Schools in South Carolina took an innovative approach to designing a new middle school to be named for our former superintendent, Dr. Phinnize Fisher. We threw out traditional building specs and came up with a new process to design the school around a focused curriculum: engineering and project-based learning (PBL).

Like most districts, our building specs drove our school design. They were effective in providing standardization but not innovation. Under the direction of Deputy Superintendent (now Superintendent) Dr. Burke Royster, we developed a new way to design schools that has become the model for how we design schools. In 2015, for the first time in more than 20 years, Dr. Phinnize Fisher Middle, a K-12 facility from the southeastern U.S. was named the national James D. MacConnell Award winner by the Council of Education Facility Planners International.