P.K. Yonge erects new elementary building in bid to become ‘technological powerhouse’

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The formal dedication Friday (May 11) of P.K.Yonge Developmental Research School’s new, technology-enhanced elementary wing marks completion of the first phase of total campus revitalization for the […]


May 11, 2012



GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The formal dedication Friday (May 11) of P.K.Yonge Developmental Research School’s new, technology-enhanced elementary wing marks completion of the first phase of total campus revitalization for the long-time University of Florida laboratory school.

P.K. Yonge and UF College of Education officials call it an important first step into transforming the K-12 school into a “model 21st century technological powerhouse.”

Aerial photo of P.K. Yonge's new, tech-enhanced elementary building.

The new 36,000-square-foot building will house kindergarten through fifth grade classes. The 13-month construction project, which cost $7.6 million, started in February 2011 with the demolition of one of three existing, single-story elementary school wings. Construction on the state-of-the-art, two-story replacement wing started March 28, 2011, with all but some minor finishing touches completed earlier this month.

The project is first in line in an effort to make the entire school a green campus. P.K. Yonge director Lynda Hayes says the new building achieves 25 percent greater energy efficiency than traditional school facilities and should qualify for LEED Gold certification–a benchmark of high-performance green buildings.

The entire makeover of P.K Yonge calls for tearing down all but five existing campus buildings. The master plan features several new buildings including a café, a global media center and a community outreach center. A new gymnasium, health and fitness center and a jogging and fitness track also are slated.

BRPH Construction Services of Melbourne, Fla., constructed the new elementary building and BRPH Architects-Engineers, Inc. designed the master plan for P.K. Yonge’s total campus renewal.

“The new elementary school embraces modern teaching methods and technology, tools and space considerations. It’s set up in a learning community model,” Hayes said.

She said a summer literacy program for younger elementary students will soon begin classes in the new building, but all elementary classes will be held there starting the next school year in August.

Officials call the new elementary school “a building without classrooms.” Traditional closed-off classrooms are replaced by learning studios with transparent walls, common areas and media centers. Computer labs are replaced by wireless devices such as laptops and tablets.

“The integrated technology will teach students how to make good decisions on the Internet and make global connections for research and communication as part of their coursework,” Hayes said.

Specialized space called the da Vinci Studio awaits students for creative science and art classes and projects. Students also have outdoor learning areas surrounded by nature, indoor reading lofts and comfortable chairs facing each other instead of all staring ahead at the teacher, as well as traditionally organized learning experiences. Teachers have designated workrooms and planning areas, accessible throughout the day to encourage collaborative teaching efforts.

Hayes, in her first year as P.K. Yonge’s director, said the school will work with stakeholders on strategies to raise the remaining $39 million needed to complete the total campus renewal project.

She moderated Friday’s dedication event and Alachua County Commissioner Paula DeLaney and other dignitaries spoke before the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony. Other participants included Joseph Glover, UF provost; Ed Poppell of the University of Florida Development Corporation (which oversees development of Gainesville’s Innovation Square); Glenn Good, dean of UF College of Education; and Fran Vandiver, retired P.K. Yonge director.

The campus revitalization project, nearly four years in the making, is a key legacy of Vandiver’s 13-year tenure as school director. She retired in April 2011.

Dean Good described P.K. Yonge’s forward-thinking campus renewal effort as typical for an education innovator.

“P.K. Yonge was into education reform before education reform was cool,” Good said. “These advances will improve the educational experiences of every student at P.K. Yonge and serve as a model for other schools in Alachua County and across the state and nation.”


    SOURCE: Lynda Hayes, director, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, lhayes@pky.ufl.edu; 392-1554, ext. 222

    SOURCE: Thomas Reilly, senior superintendent, BRPH Architects-Engineers, 321-751-3052

    WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, News & Communications, UF College of Education, llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137