With Ross Tarrant Architects of Lexington, Mackey Mitchell was selected in early 2017 to design Kentucky School for the Deaf’s new elementary school. The new building provides language arts and other classrooms for a maximum of 80 students in grades Pre-K through fifth. Both the School and the Kentucky Department of Education envisioned this new building—the first significant capital investment in KSD’s campus in over two decades—to be critical for stabilizing the school’s population, and ensuring sustainable growth into the future.
Classrooms and administrative spaces are organized along a wide main corridor, designed to promote visual communication and smooth transitioning. Break-out rooms for therapy visits or small group work are interspersed, with controlled views into corridor and classrooms. The classrooms use simple, inexpensive design choices to minimize background noise and distraction, and use audio, visual, and assistive learning technologies to elevate the sensory signal. Building on KSD’s strong history as a residential campus, the building also provides a new elementary school dormitory for up to 20 students. Where the residential and academic spaces come together, a spacious dining and multi-purpose room provides panoramic views of the rolling Kentucky landscape. These residential spaces are open and accommodating, and designed to balance visual privacy with appropriate supervision.
Situated on top of a gentle slope near the heart of the academic and residential campus, the new school is designed as an education magnet that visiting families will immediately recognize at the best option of where to send their Deaf or hard of hearing children. The design includes elements that pay homage to the historical buildings on campus, including the decorative columns on the main entrance. With alternate ends of the building visible from primary roadways and from the campus’ main traffic circle and visitor parking, the design is focused to provide visual clarity and a warm, welcoming approach.
Every square foot of this new building is designed around the safety and instruction of students – from the way the rooms are designed to the way the mechanical systems are integrated.
- Stephen Pruitt
Former Commissioner of Education, State of Kentucky (via The Advocate-Messenger)