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  • Niralee Shah

Utah Deaf and Blind School

Architect: Jacoby Architects

Year : 2017

Location : Salt Lake City U.S. State of UTAH

Area: 4,645 m2

-Salt lake center for the Utah schools for the deaf and the blind, a new facility providing education, therapy, and services for varying levels of sensory, behavioral, physical, and cognitive abilities.

-This facility is home to a diverse list of functions containing: a full size gymnasium with indoor/outdoor performing arts capability, orientation & mobility area , indoor clubhouses containing physical and occupational therapy training; multi-functional kitchen for vocational and life skills training; early childhood classrooms

-An overall canvas of light-colored mass is highlighted with high contrast accents of bright red, illuminated features to create landmarks throughout.

-The design focuses on the development of attractive and inviting public spaces near the entrances and drop-off zones.

-The interior courtyard consists of a series of linked “play gardens”, with one half of the courtyard designed to meet the special play and outdoor education needs of deaf students, and the other half the needs of visually impaired students.

-Small planting areas were designed with a range of plants with distinct smells, tastes and tactile conditions, to help engage the senses of deaf and blind students alike.

-The interior courtyard consists of a series of linked “play gardens”, with one half of the courtyard designed to meet the special play and outdoor education needs of deaf students, and the other half the needs of visually impaired students.

-An outdoor amphitheater is located immediately adjacent to the front entrance of the building.

-It is directly linked with an interior stage, providing a seamless indoor/outdoor connection.

-The design of the amphitheater is also linked with the sports fields, playground and a range of gardens and courtyards, resulting in a flexible and dynamic activity zone.

-A cloistered courtyard is the primary outdoor space dedicated to the young students. The design and forms are distinctly different for the deaf student corridor at the bottom of the courtyard, and the blind wing above.

-The "blind play gardens" and pathways emphasize strong visual contrasts and the use of varied paving materials and textures to encourage exploration and learning.

-The "deaf play gardens" incorporate more complicated curvilinear patterns, amenities, and obstacles, which are laid out with strong visual connections from space-to-space avoiding hidden corners.

-The two approaches "come together" in the middle of the courtyard where different students are encouraged to play and learn together.

-Paving materials vary and change frequently, incorporating strong lines, patterns, and tactile cues to help teach the students how to navigate in the larger world.

-In order to meet the needs of blind and visually impaired students, the gardens and pathway system needed to be clear and obvious, encompassing strong contrasts in materials, colors and textures.

-This facilitates navigation while providing a better sense of direction for partially-sighted students.

-The courtyard brings the two groups of students together.

-A central pavilion acts as a gathering place where the deaf and blind students can come together and interact.