Re-imagining the Media Center: From Central Hub to Distributed Creation Labs


Judith Hoskens
Fellow A4LE
Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.

W. Tyler Whitehead
Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.

Kay Nelson
Assistant Superintendent
Sartell-St. Stephen School District

Brenda Steve
Sartell High School


1 Learning Units (LU)

How applies to HSW:



Schools across the country are seeing a dramatic transformation in their approach to traditional media centers. Originally meant to be a central hub of learning and activity, Sartell took the radical approach of redistributing this space into three labs around their new High School: Visual (video production and recording studio); Cloud (computer programming, graphic design and cartography); and Design (prototyping, laser cutters, 3D printers, and robotics). Learn how Sartell – St. Stephen Schools involved students and staff in reimagining and rethinking their ‘Media Center’ making it a place where students want to be igniting their passion for learning and positioning them to achieve their best!

Learning Objectives:
  • Obtain a greater understanding on ways to rethink spaces that support NEXT Century Learning.;
  • Sartell High School is creating a new model for collaboration and innovation that exposes students to various occupational opportunities.
  • Obtain a greater understanding of the student-driven education model that empowers students to create their own path and graduate with career readiness.;
  • Understand the shifting context of media spaces and how to achieve a strong balance between current needs and future needs, both in terms of learning needs and evolution of technology.
Primary Competency:

Educational Visioning: Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educational leadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders – translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner.

Primary Domain:

Learning: Content of this session/workshop will focus on how we learn and/or how the physical environment responds specifically to various methods of instruction, pedagogies, learning styles, or learning trends.

Secondary Domain:

Context: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the circumstances that form the setting for the design and construction of specific learning environments and characteristics that distinguishes the project from other applications.

Additional information:

The New Sartell High School is transforming the traditional Media Center concept to meet the learning needs of their students. The new distributed media labs vary in size and function to provide a more individualized learning environment. In understanding the shifting context of research and group work, it is evident that we needed to think about the media spaces in a different way. By separating these spaces, and giving them significant frontage to common spaces, we have achieved a strong balance of providing for the current needs of the school while also remaining flexible for the next five years of evolution in technology.