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Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Open Office

As classroom chalkboards and hardback textbooks gradually become second-hand to electronic visual boards and laptops, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. refuses to fall behind the state of the art technology curve. In August 2010, EVSC opened the Technology and Innovation Center to facilitate employees as digital usage becomes more apparent in the classroom. This 18,000-square-foot, LEED-certified facility provides ample space for weekly professional development opportunities, such as training sessions, staff meetings, and news and Skype conferences.

The TIC site, which previously occupied the EVSC supportive services center, is located Downtown on Walnut Street and connects to the school corporation’s administrative offices. In 2009, Evansville’s Hafer Associates served as the project’s architect, engineer, and interior designer to execute a “progressive, creative, thought-provoking, and energizing” atmosphere, says Amy Ward, associate director of interior design at Hafer.

Inside, walls are splashed with bold hues — blue, red, orange, green, and purple — and sleek upholsteries, furnishings, and finishes add a creative, yet professional touch. Each room on the first floor is equipped with a Promethean Board — an interactive white board that serves as a computer screen — and the common area includes a painted white board for written notes and discussions. A variety of mobile furnishings, including standing-height tables, stools, chairs with mini tabletops, and lounge chairs, allow for multi-group seating arrangements. The idea, says Ward, was to design flexible, comfortable, and collaborative spaces by removing the barriers of walls often found in conference centers.

Upstairs in the office of technology, natural light pours in from the floor to ceiling windows. “Day lighting has been associated with improving moods, enhancing morale, lowering fatigue, and reducing eyestrain,” says Marsha Jackson, chief communication officer of EVSC. Hafer designed work station cubicles to accommodate nearly 30 technology and media specialists, and provided each occupant with a view to the exterior. Each cubicle’s panel height offers “a definitive sense of individual space while providing a work atmosphere that is conducive to a more open environment,” says Ward.

Whether attending an in-service for a new software program or joining colleagues for a lunch conference, TIC’s vibrant and contemporary interior is welcoming and functional. Ultimately, says Ward, “we want to inspire and motivate all who visit.”

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