Bishop Noll STREAM Lab
The STREAM Lab project developed for Bishop Noll Institute (BNI), a Catholic college-prep high school in Hammond, Indiana, transformed an underutilized natatorium-turned-activity center into a dynamic collaborative, experiential learning space.
BNI was founded in 1921 with the intention to provide Catholic College Preparatory Education and has remained committed to its Mission: “Rooted in Catholic values and traditions, Bishop Noll Institute will provide students a rigorous college preparatory experience.” Each element of the 7,050 square foot project aligns with BNI’s vision to provide outstanding STREAM (science, technology, religion, engineering, art, and mathematics) education and Project Lead the Way (PLTW) programming.
PLTW is a non-profit organization offering STEM based curricula in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Much of the learning is project-based and hands on in this program, requiring students to research problems, to develop solutions through critical thinking, and to build working prototypes of their solutions. This expansive program has unique needs in terms of space, furniture, equipment and technology. A critical design need is to present and celebrate student work throughout the lab area.
The design team conducted visioning workshops with administrators, teachers, students, parents, and support staff. Central to the three-month process were discussions about experiences students should have including collaboration, hands-on learning, and creative problem solving with a backdrop of religious ethics. Stakeholders prioritized desired STREAM Lab spaces:
- Prototype lab
- Design studio
- Student project display
- Learning studio
- Teacher workspace
- Small group area
- Security vestibule
- Independent study area
Modular furnishings, whiteboards, computer stations sized for group work, and the 1,070-sf mezzanine Small Group Area encourage collaboration. Hands-on learning and problem solving are facilitated in the Prototype Lab where students can build projects using 3D printers and fabrication tools. The Makerspace gives students a place to test projects and solve design problems. The space is an integrated tool for learning, from one-meter grid spacing on the floor to an elevated egg drop experiment platform. Catholic education principles are reinforced through a 3-dimensional wooden sculpture of St. Joseph the Carpenter overlooking the lab.
Careful attention was paid to minimizing environmental impact throughout the project. The installation of a new high efficiency HVAC system reduces energy consumption. Skylights were installed to take advantage of natural daylighting. And, demolition waste was reduced by repurposing classroom space.
BNI's commitment to its Mission has resulted in an impressive learning environment that will benefit its students for years to come.