One School’s Success with 21st Century School Design

By NanaWall Systems, November 27, 2019


In 2017, Irvine-based school, Tarbut V’Torah (TVT), added the MAKER building to its 21.5-acre hillside campus. The new structure creates a 21st Century educational experience for its K-5 students.

TVT’s Success with 21st Century School Design

LPA Design Studios, a sustainable design architecture firm, is responsible for TVT’s renovation, which includes the MAKER + science building, a Fitness center, and a STEAM building. The primary objective was to bring the school up to date with 21st Century school design, but there were two underlying goals: 1) use the outdoors as learning spaces, and 2) reflect the school’s values.


1) Using the outdoors as learning spaces

MAKER buildings are places for creativity and imagination. In MAKER buildings, students work together on self-directed projects that interest them; often projects based on science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics.

True to a 21st Century learning environment, LPA Design Studios designed the MAKER building to be flexible. Tables, chairs, and whiteboards are all mobile and encourage collaboration. Flexible classrooms don’t follow the traditional seating arrangement, which is for the teacher’s convenience. 21st Century classroom design optimizes the learning activity taking place.

One room in the MAKER building, the Huddle, elaborates on the flexible classroom idea by expanding learning space outdoors. With strategic design and an innovative product, the Huddle has the flexibility to open to Southern California weather or close if the weather turns sour.

Corner placement of an operable glass partition, the NanaWall HSW60, converts the Huddle room into a kinetic shared space. The 12 panel single track sliding system creates an open corner without help from any structural support. For ADA compliance, the system is paired with a low profile saddle sill.


Flexible outside learning spaces create larger areas to educate, but more importantly, it benefits students. Learning outside brings wellness and comfort, helping students learn more effectively. Studies show that children learn 20-26% faster with exposure to daylight. Throughout the MAKER building, 75% of regularly occupied areas reach 300 lux for over half the annual occupied hours from daylighting alone. Additionally, 90% of the occupied spaces have direct views to the outdoors and all rooms have operable fenestration to control the temperature.


2) How to reflect school values

To reflect school values, LPA installed a bold display of TVT’s values at the campus entrance. The front gate hosts phrases like “Repair the World,” “Justice,” “Kindness,” and “Community.” Students start every school day greeted by their core principles. There are also reminders of religious values within the campus like reading nooks that transform into Sukkot huts during religious festivals.

The remodel was also an opportunity for the school to walk the walk with its sustainable values. The project’s Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 43 is 70% better than the baseline, meeting the 2030 Challenge. To integrate the sustainable design into education, strategies like stormwater collection units are on display for students to interact with. Additionally, there is a visible 400-square-foot green roof on top of the Fitness center.


Award-Winning Design = Award-Winning School

LPA Design Studios received the AIAOC Honor Award and the ASLASC Excellence Award for its innovative 21st Century school design.  

More importantly, TVT garnered accolades following the campus revitalization.

The school rating website, Niche, awarded TVT an “A+” overall grade. Along with the stellar mark, Niche recognized Tarbut V’Torah as the #1 Jewish School in America and the #1 Best K-12 Private School in Orange County. The graduating seniors earned a pipeline to some of the best colleges in America.

Following the building’s opening in 2017, TVT gained 135 students and projects a 5% growth in 2019-2020.

To learn about the NanaWall HSW60 system and how it can help with a 21st Century School Design, please visit the HSW60 product page!