By Elizabeth McDonald, Editor, ICC Assessment Center

Designing a building involves not only making sure the space is safe but also creating feelings of comfort, showcasing innovation, and conceiving healthier environments. We had the opportunity to get a first-hand student perspective on how updating a building affects education when we took a look at Indian Springs School in Birmingham, Al., named by Business Insider as one of the 15 most beautiful new schools in the world. We sat down with alumnus Henry Goff and current Indian Springs student Alice Goff, son and daughter of Assessment Center Program Manager, Lizzie Hudson, to hear about their experiences with the school’s newly designed classrooms.

Assessment Center Program Manager Lizzie Hudson with her son and daughter, Henry Goff and Alice Goff, students from Indian Springs School in Birmingham, Al.

Indian Springs School’s three new classroom buildings and new administration building have been awarded Silver LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). Henry compared the old buildings on campus to the new:  “Although the new buildings don’t yet have the idyllic charms of the old, they are unquestionably the best equipped for 21st-century learning, without losing anything in the way of a welcoming learning environment.”

The architects behind the new remodeling of Indian Springs 8th-12th grade school placed much consideration to connect Indian Springs students with the environment by designing safe, sustainable, and environment-friendly exterior and interior spaces. When discussing her favorite space, Alice talked about how the new classrooms are very open and inviting. “They’re also a great place to hang out during free times throughout the day.” Henry recalled the relaxing senior lounge “filled with old, cushy furniture, [where] I could always find a friend in there when I had some free time during the day.”

Henry and Alice both identified how the new classrooms have positively affected their engagement with learning. Characterized by their minimalist design with high floor-to-ceiling windows, spacious desks, and new technology, Henry described how “the openness of the classroom implies an element of freedom, which makes the learning process feel less strict and more welcoming.” He also mentioned that the addition of smart board technology in the classroom allows for better visual aid during lectures.

Alice reflected, “I do think the environment affects my learning and studying. It is much harder for me to study or focus when I feel uncomfortable or trapped.” The atmosphere of Indian Springs does just the opposite.  With “Learning Through Living” as the foundational motto for Indian Springs School, faculty, staff, Board members, alumni, parents, and students alike have established a commitment to sustainability, not only to preserve the school’s green spaces, trees, and 12-acre lake, but also to create spaces of comfort and empower higher learning for current and future generations.

For more reading about the award-winning design of Indian Springs School, please visit these links: