Workbook: Wilf Family Global Commons

120514#06Designers and architects are shaping trends in K-12 interiors, collaborating in unexpected ways, and the results—including the furniture—rarely resemble the schools we grew up with.

Integrated architecture-interior design firm JZA+D contributed in this way to the recently opened Wilf Family Global Commons at the Hun School of Princeton. The firm collaborated with the school and the project architect, namely by specifying movable, flexible furniture for the 30,000-square-foot facility that combines dorms, classrooms and a student life center.

120514#15At first blush this seems like a small task for a full-service architecture and interior design firm. But JZA+D recognized the opportunity to help create a unique experience for students and faculty of the private co-ed boarding school.

Headmaster Jonathan Brougham of Hun school conceived of a space that would become central to student life—an open space with features and furnishings that would encourage group study, socializing, presentations, and high-tech projects. The Hun School relied on the expertise of JZA+D for furniture selection and coordination that would achieve this vision.

“The interior is designed to be flexible, to meet the day-to-day changing needs of the students,” says Marlyn Zucosky, IIDA, Partner and Director of Interior Design for JZA+D. “That meant that the furniture would really define the space.” The firm suggested, and all agreed, that the students and others who use the space should be able to “define space” in their own ways, every day.

“That meant selecting movable, easily rearrangeable furniture,” says Zucosky.

120514#11Zucosky selected colorful modular seating, lightweight but durable classroom furnishings, and moveable dormitory desks and beds, based on project architect H2L2’s then-unfinished plans and schemes for the Global Commons. The results surprised even them. “Every time we visit the space, the students have done something new with the furniture,” says Zucosky. “They’re really making the space their own.”

JZA+D recently won Architectural Firm of the Year 2014 service award, in part because of a commitment to unique modes of collaboration between ‘competing’ firms, from the New Jersey chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

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