Long Island high school re-imagines a space to reinvigorate student success
The Baldwin Union Free School District (UFSD) in New York was committed to optimizing its high school library for modern learning with a 21st-century redesign. The Workspace Interiors team at ODP Business Solutions helped Baldwin High School create a space where students can study, perform research, leverage available technology resources, and more — all in a comfortable, contemporary, and collaborative environment.
Located in Baldwin, Nassau County, New York, Baldwin High School serves students in grades 9–12 in the Baldwin Union Free School District. With its current 97% graduation rate,* Baldwin High School is nationally recognized as a “School of Excellence.”** The school has also been ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top high schools in the nation.
With its ongoing commitment to fostering an extraordinary learning environment for its students and staff, Baldwin High School wanted to convert its former library into a state-of-the-art “Learning Collaboratory” featuring various collaborative spaces and technology — a hub where students could put the district’s motto into action: “We are innovative. We are inclusive. We are involved. We are Baldwin.”
Prior to the redesign, the Baldwin High School space was utilized as a traditional library — complete with a focus on book stacks — and wasn’t optimal for collaboration.
“We wanted to give our students a space that looked like the world of work,” stated Dr. Shari L. Camhi, superintendent of Baldwin UFSD.
To keep up with an ever-changing educational landscape, Baldwin High School set its sights on collaborative furniture from a variety of manufacturers. School representatives were also interested in installing Trendway Volo® walls, creating glass-enclosed rooms perfect for group instructional learning and collaboration.
The goal was to build five private, glass-enclosed rooms within the overall open-space environment that would enable students and staff to hold classes or meetings to work on projects together. “When you talk to the students, there is a real need for a space to collaborate,” said Dr. Camhi.
Baldwin representatives attended EDspaces with the ODP Business Solutions® team to get a feel for the modern learning furniture solutions that would be available for this project. EDspaces is an annual conference/expo that features K–12 furniture manufacturers and unites forward-thinking administrators with architects and designers, who are diligently re-imagining traditional school settings.
Baldwin UFSD had purchased entire classroom solutions from Workspace Interiors in previous years for multiple classroom environments throughout its elementary schools, middle school, and high schools.
Based on the success of these projects, Baldwin UFSD leveraged its relationship with Workspace Interiors once again to bring its vision for the Learning Collaboratory to life.
Workspace Interiors quickly went to work. Once a timeline was firmly in place, finishes were selected, and drawings were finalized, the Workspace Interiors team met with Dr. Camhi and senior management to review everything in person. Weekly project management calls were then held between the Workspace Interiors and Baldwin Facilities teams to stay on track with the established timeline, Volo wall installation, and redesign process overall.
This was just one more way that communication and collaboration were maintained at the highest level throughout the entirety of the project.
In addition to the merits of the previous working relationship established between Workspace Interiors and Baldwin UFSD, Baldwin High School was able to leverage its America Saves contract offered by ODP Business Solutions.
Designed to reduce operating costs while delivering more for schools, universities, and public sector organizations, the America Saves program provides the advantages of cooperative purchasing while eliminating the need for a bid process — at the same time providing helpful rebates and negotiated discounts.
Workspace Interiors leveraged the America Saves program to help provide strategic value and time savings for the school. It also helped create significant time efficiencies and reduce the cost of goods and services for this project.
Workspace Interiors collaborated with Baldwin High School to help transform its traditional library space into an open-air concept (now named the “Learning Collaboratory”) that enables students and staff to:
Students can also use specific tables in the space that feature whiteboard surfaces, as well as leverage writable surfaces on panels inside of the Volo walls. Students and staff can take full advantage of the room’s comfortable seating, and much of the furniture throughout the space is mobile, making it flexible — and easily reconfigurable — on the fly.
As for the books that previously filled the room? They’re still available in a space called the Book Nook, complete with mobile cases for added flexibility, directly adjacent to the Learning Collaboratory.
“This is just the next generation of what is formally known as a library,” stated Dr. Camhi. “It is not just about books and periodicals and online resources and tech — it is about places where people work together.”
The collaborative workspaces are a result of the teamwork and relationship between the school and Workspace Interiors.
“The companies that ODP Business Solutions partners with made sure that they pulled out all the stops to do what they needed to do, [and] it was finished on time,” stated Dr. Camhi.
The two-phase project ran between June 2021 and February 2022. Workspace Interiors performed these activities and more:
Since the completion of the space, positive results abound. Dr. Camhi said, “I don’t know how you can’t come in here and say, ‘Wow!’”
We’re broader than a furniture vendor. Workspace Interiors provides total turnkey solutions that suit your unique requirements, and we can manage any or all parts of the process.
“If you have a space that allows [collaboration] to happen more naturally, those learning opportunities are going to happen a lot better. It’s been such a difference-maker — not only for our students but also our staff.”
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