News & Insights

Designing Educational Spaces for the Future: Akron Public School’s Districtwide Program Management Completed After 20 Years in the Making

Designed with the community in mind, the completion of the new Garfield Community Learning Center (CLC) officially closed the 20+ year chapter of Akron Public School’s (APS) Districtwide Program Management. APS serves over 20,000 K-12 students in Akron, Ohio, and nearby communities. In 2001, GPD was jointly selected by APS, the City of Akron, and the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC) to lead the architectural and engineering design efforts for the district’s master plan. The master plan included a total of 32 buildings both new and renovated.

Garfield CLC consolidated two of the district’s high schools and was built on the same site as the formerly existing Garfield High School, which was demolished as part of the project. The new CLC is designed to serve 1,043 high school students, as well as 374 career technical students. GPD worked collaboratively with the district and neighboring communities to develop a facility that meets the educational needs of students and the community’s expectations. The merging of the former Garfield and Kenmore High Schools provides the opportunity to unite the two communities with pride for the future generations of APS students.

Carefully Planned with the Community in Mind

APS developed the Imagine Akron Community Learning Centers (CLCs) Program with a vision to transform the standardized public school system and open opportunities for community members to take advantage of the spaces.

During school hours, the facilities are used for the contemporary learning needs of the students and faculty. After school, on weekends, and during the summer, many of the CLCs can be used by the community for adult-education, recreational activities, after school / summer school programs, and a wide variety of community activities.

Sustainable Design Principles

All district schools served through APS’s Program Management project included Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) principles to reduce damaging environmental impact. Incorporating sustainable designs in schools provides more than just a place for learning; they provide a healthy environment that has a positive effect on students, staff, and the community at large. It extends its influence, conserves energy, and becomes an active part of the educational system and surrounding community.

LEED® design in many of the new APS CLCs included:

  • Recycled content
  • Low-VOC finish materials
  • Regional materials used to reduce burning of fossil fuels to transport materials
  • Recycling of construction debris
  • Efficient HVAC design
  • Increased insulation thermal-resistance values for exterior walls and roof
  • High-efficiency plumbing fixtures designed to reduce building potable water consumption
  • High-efficiency service (domestic) water heaters
  • Utilization of glazing systems with increased thermal resistance
  • Internal and external LED lighting with automated lighting controls including occupancy sensors

GPD took great pride in providing sustainable design services to APS to enhance the learning environment. School facilities have a direct impact on students’ health and learning. Well-designed and comfortable learning environments can increase student performance and reduce absences.



The quality of school facilities directly affects the students and faculty who spend so much time in the buildings. After 20+ years in the making, GPD is grateful to have seen this project evolve from conception to completion. This districtwide program management plan will have a lasting positive impact on the children and community in Akron, OH for years to come.

Click here to learn more about our partnership with APS