Tuesday, September 23, 2014  11:00 AM
designWorks and Unity Education Resources Join Forces for Fayetteville High School Remodel

HiTouch Business Services Provides Collaboration in Both Process and Outcome

Lessons learned: A school renovation may be similar in some ways to that of a business in another industry. But in other ways, it’s a unique situation requiring expert insight.

That’s why the combination of designWorks and Unity Education Resources, both units of HiTouch Business Services, was an ideal addition to the four-year, four-phase renovation plan for Fayetteville High School in Fayetteville, Ark. Working together, the team was able to recommend and install furnishings that would withstand the daily rigors of student use; enhance flexible and collaborative learning styles; and seamlessly fit into architectural design, whether for classrooms, athletic facilities, or even the vocational and fine arts areas.

“It’s exciting how all of this took place,” says Kevin Shumate, Unity Education Resources business consultant. “What I was able to convince the owner of early on was the need for everyone involved in the project to be around the table at the same time. What happens so frequently is that you have an owner and an architect and someone who’s actually building the building, and then it comes to a supplier like me. I may say, ‘This is what I want here,’ but that may be exactly where an I-beam has to go. With this project, it was not unusual for us to have 15 to 20 people around a huge conference table, all talking about the project with the same goal in mind: creating a place that not only facilitates learning, but that also allows the furniture and design to blend. And after every meeting, we were all saying, ‘This is going to be great.’ It was never antagonistic.”

Shumate was even able to bring in multiple manufacturers to these meetings, enhancing understanding and forging relationships.      

Teri Bryan, designWorks designer, says everyone involved in the project was really “open to listening” and to considering creative ideas. In terms of creating the collaborative learning environment, Bryan and Shumate suggested moving away from the standard connected chair and desk toward chairs and tables that were different shapes and easily could be moved around the room.    

“Problem solving is what people are always looking for,” Bryan says. The original design also included one large open space the size of three classrooms, but no one knew the most efficient way to use it. Bryan, however, was able to offer a plan for using the space in different ways.

The team also was able to work on the school library—renovated and renamed in honor of Matthew William Moore, a former student who died in a spring break car accident—injecting as much color and texture as the project budget would allow.

“Budgets provide challenges,” Shumate says. “But we’ve done very well with that.” The team also did well, he says, with the fact that the project was installed on the existing site; work was done during the summer months while classes weren’t in session.

“We had demolition going on in one area, and construction in another,” he says.” But when the students returned, they were able to see completed sections each fall.

Throughout the process, coordination was key.

“It’s been very successful,” Shumate says. And having more than one division of HiTouch Business Services involved only helped.

“We’re capable of representing more than just our single divisions,” he says. “That makes everything smoother.”  

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