Yinghua Academy was the first Chinese immersion charter public school established in the United States. As one of the most successful Chinese immersion schools in the nation, considerable attention has been given to its success. Furthermore, it has a cutting-edge curriculum recognized for leading in Mandarin Chinese and English education for all students.
With a growing enrollment, expanded programs and community outreach, the School made the decision to expand on their present site to meet its growing educational needs. Their original building functioned as an elementary school owned by Minneapolis Public Schools. With an aging infrastructure and the need for additional space, Kodet Architectural Group worked with parents, administration, and staff to determine the best solution to provide the needed space on a very small site.
The existing building was approximately 45,000 sq. ft. and, working with the City and neighborhood, an additional 38,500 sq. ft was added. Key to the addition was to provide a combination of classrooms, media, student commons, and a high school-sized gymnasium.
The site, located adjacent to Northeast Park, is ideally suited for the location of the school. Yinghua Academy is using the park both as an athletic space but also as the open space around the school. In addition, the new addition is to fit into the neighborhood context . A part of the design consideration was to control the height of the building, the materials used and utilize an architecture that reflected a school and neighborhood character.
The plan reflects the most current in educational design. One critical aspect that is incorporated is a single central entry point for security leading to a clear check-in point at the main office. Access to the remainder of the building is controlled by this single point, improving the open path currently found, improving the safety of the entire school.
Also created to modernize the educational design is the incorporation of a central student commons that links all the major spaces as well as provides circulation. This flexibility provides an efficiency in building size while accommodating the multiple uses the facility engages in every day. Furthermore, the space will be central to community as well as school activities.
Classroom design is organized to take advantage of the view as well as natural light. The design incorporates sustainable design and reflects the culture Yinghua has developed as part of its mission. The design focuses on preparing students to be engaged as global citizens. The building design focuses on being a backdrop for all the educational programs from art to science.
Student break out spaces as well as student exhibit areas are incorporated into the design. Science is a central part of the new space and incorporates current technology as well as infrastructure for STEM programs. In addition, new art spaces allow students to engage in the latest technology as well as traditional and Chinese art curricula.
The building uses state of the art mechanical systems, providing indoor air quality that is cutting edge which provides for healthier learning environments. Natural lighting, natural ventilation, the use of the adjacent park for learning, and neighborhood involvement are core parts of the design that supports the Chinese immersion education.
The new facility is meeting the immediate and long-term needs of Yinghua Academy. With community, parent, administration, faculty, and student involvement, the design reflects a culture and curriculum that was established in the Mission Statement and provides a positive environment for Yinghua’s success.