Eden Park Elementary School

Eden Park Elementary School

  • LocationCranston, Rhode Island, USA
  • TypeRenovation
  • Size18,000 SF
  • Recognition2020 AIA Rhode Island Merit Award / AIA Rhode Island Design Award, Construction Managers Association of America (CMAA) New England

The District needed a plan to transform its aging building stock into modern, responsive learning environments to support all learners.

Cranston Public Schools’ showcase facility, Eden Park Elementary, was the first step in those plans. Strategically designed (to be a “model home” of sorts), this Pathfinder Project showcases the new direction and educational innovation that the District’s future facility projects will take in the years ahead, while setting the tone for shifting their pedagogy to a more Project-Based Learning and Student-Directed approach.


In preparation for a bond, Fielding International helped navigate the District in establishing this project and setting the standard for their educational spaces going forward. A small-scale, low-cost transformation was needed to showcase what the future of their educational spaces could and should look like. The west wing of Eden Park Elementary School was identified as a natural location for a design renovation to show the community what their 5-year plans were for the rest of the district.

Students, teachers, staff, administration, families and community partners were involved in early planning discussions. The involvement of the community went further, as well, with students, teachers and staff playing a vital role in the process of designing the renovations.

From findings of Discovery Workshops, adjacencies of spaces from one to the other, and their visual connectedness needed to support varied learning styles and student-centered activities. Students desired agency to choose the right space type for their work and teachers needed the ability to shift easily from one lesson to another and feel ownership over their shared Learning Community.


The result is a highly successful project based on a holistic “learning community” model rather than the now outmoded “Cells and Bells” model. The makeover has enabled students and teachers to implement and experience a new kind of collaborative learning environment that follows the patterns of a learning community.

Immediately, the school community saw a marked increase in student attendance and engagement as students adjusted to and fell in love with the new 21st-century teaching and learning environment.
The level of engagement, personalization and physical comfort has reduced absences and the school has seen a huge drop in disciplinary issues and all but eliminated the need for specialized isolation and decompression rooms for students with special needs – instead, they are thriving within a suite of spaces shared by everyone in their learning community.

In March 2020, when schools shut down for Covid-19, Eden Park found that students who had been in these new learning spaces were more successful when setting up their at-home learning environments. Teachers found these students could work more independently than those who were not used to learning environments that provided freedom and agency.

By reconfiguring underutilized circulation space, learning now extends to shared areas outside the classroom and allows students and teachers the ability to flexibly shift between various modes of learning and increased collaboration.

Classrooms are now studios, and the new space offers an interconnected array of different spatial types to support a variety of learning modalities to support all students. The new learning community is a powerful ensemble of spaces. It contains a shared learning commons, a social heart, and a robust collection of discrete learning studios of varying sizes, small group rooms, and seminar spaces, which can respond to individual needs and personalized learning.

The new floor plan provides peer interaction and student enrichment. Flexible and multi-use spaces are now found everywhere. The adjacencies of these spaces from one to the other, and their visual connectedness, supports varied learning styles and student-centered activities. Students have agency to choose the right space type for their work and teachers are able to shift easily from one lesson to another and feel ownership over their shared learning community.

Furniture layouts support simultaneous student groups, presentations, teacher lectures, project-based learning, small group learning, individual research, and technology-based learning.

The project shows how creativity can transform a simple, rigid school building into a flexible, flowing learning environment. The interiors are inviting, vibrant, engaging and offer a variety of learning spaces. Learning By Design Magazine, 2021 Citation of Excellence

As a testimonial to the project’s achievements, AIA Rhode Island, a statewide component of the American Institute of Architects, recently awarded Eden Park Elementary and Fielding International a 2020 Design Award of Merit. Additionally, the project has received international recognition, including a recent publication in Planning Learning Spaces.

The Eden Park project proves that when a school is designed to support the whole student at every level, it will prepare them and their teachers for the twenty-first century and show them a new vision of the future through the joy of learning.

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Design Patterns

Learning Commons
Learning Studio
Learning Garden
Learning Community
Variable Seating
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