Synergy: Designing Non-Traditional, Inclusive Learning Environments to Benefit the Underserved

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM


Our presentation will cover examples of how non-traditional learning environments can be used to benefit under-served sectors of our community, specifically the disabled. Disability is the largest minority group that you can join at any time and in fact 1 out of 3 Americans will either have a disability or care for someone with a disability at some point in their lives. We will specifically discuss The Hardesty Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges. The mission of “The Center” is to provide opportunities for persons with physical disabilities to enhance the quality of their lives by creating a community that fosters hope, health and humanity. In addition to serving teens and adults with horizon-expanding opportunities to participate in a range of activities including athletics, art, horticulture, and community-integration, the Center also wished to expand their facilities and programming to serve 5- to 12-year old’s. While working with The Center on their building expansion from 2015 to 2018, our design team also helped the to create promotional/fundraising materials, distinctive signage which promotes community awareness of their work, and participated in their community outreach. During the fundraising process, we studies programming opportunities that included new youth programs and created several iterations of the design to respond to these potential new programs and donor interest. The donations increased and the building expanded from a $3 million project to a $11 million project. Physically-challenged kids can now be engaged in adaptive athletics, art, plants/ horticulture, soft-skills training, summer camp, and increased opportunities at The Center for community interaction. Research, observation of clients in the existing facility, careful discussions with The Center, and studying implementation of ADA or improved standards (better than ADA) all were part of visioning to create the additional 28,000 SF facility on their campus. Center Member Emeka says, “I am looking forward to The Center filling a major gap in the disabled community. The impact The Center has had on me is life changing, and I know it will be that much greater in the life of a child with a physical challenge.”

#1: EVALUATE community needs through a structured visioning process to create metrics which inform and quantitatively support design decisions.
#2: RECOGNIZE and foster potential synergetic relationships between projects and clients to create viable solutions to each client’s and community needs.
#3: IMPLEMENT design solutions for unique learning spaces such as those required for children with physical challenges.
#4: CREATE spaces that are inclusive and welcoming toward specific demographic groups, enhancing the potential of students and ensuring enduring community buy-in.

Ethics/Professionalism: Provides leadership and stewardship for the responsible investment of public and private funding into school facilities – while being a known advocate for the importance of the learning environment on a child’s future. They lead and have a record of leading transparent processes that help communities find common ground in developing solutions to complex and sensitive issues – advocating for long term solutions that address the needs of all children and stakeholders including underserved groups.

Design of Educational Facilities: Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

Sarah Gould, AIA, A4LE, Owner, KKT Architects, Inc.
Sarah leads all aspects of building and design at KKT Architects. Education and community are her passions, and she works closely with most school districts in the region. Sarah is President of Oklahoma A4LE and serves on the board of the Foundation for Tulsa Schools. She earned her Master of Architecture from the University of Texas, Austin and her Master of Architectural Urban Studies from the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa. 

Jim Boulware, AIA, Principal, KKT Architects, Inc.
Jim is a passionate and dedicated architect in the Tulsa community. He is a Principal and Design Lead within KKT Architects, Inc. and is a leader internally and externally for Architectural Design. Jim focuses on his clients and developing a project that meets the functional and aesthetic needs of each individual project. Jim earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Oklahoma State University and he has over sixteen years of experience.

Lori Long, CFRE, MHRE, Executive Director, The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges

LearningSCAPES Virtual Conference: Passport to Learning



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11445 E. Via Linda, Ste 2-440
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