Marysville STEM Early College High School

Transitioning an abandoned middle school into a creative and collaborative hub for 21st century learning helps students develop the skills they need to succeed in college and in our increasingly competitive and global workplace.

A new approach to educational facility design helps students prepare for real-world challenges.

Today’s educational curriculum has evolved beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic to incorporate critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity skills. These four Cs of 21st century learning will help students better prepare for higher learning and competitive jobs beyond high school. But getting the four Cs into the mix takes more than a new lesson plan. Teaching for the future requires a student-led, project-based learning environment where hands-on problem solving and collaboration happen daily. And that means that many of today’s traditional educational facilities no longer make the grade.

Forward-thinking districts are reevaluating how they modify existing or design new buildings to keep pace with the paradigm shift. OHM Advisors has become a critical partner in the effort. In 2009, our experience designing the new three-story Clark Hall across the street from Gahanna Lincoln High School forever changed the way we design for education. Drawing on lessons learned, we collaborated with the visionary district leaders at the Marysville Exempted Village School District to convert a vacant middle school into a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) high school with a focus on the four Cs, college readiness, and specialized career training.

OHM Advisors worked closely with the school district and its partners including Honda, Otterbein University, High Point Career Center, and Columbus State Community College to understand the goals for the school’s high-tech, engineering, and healthcare focused curriculum. Then we set about transforming the traditional “cells and bells” school into an innovative environment that supports how students prepare today for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Thinking Differently

Creating a culture where students want to learn.

OHM Advisors has long been a proponent of creating workplace cultures that attract and retain the best talent. Now we bring that same mindset to education. After all, we don’t put employees in an institutional environment to work, so why put students in an institutional environment to learn? The renovations for the Marysville STEM Early College High School focused on creating an innovative culture for education by bringing together natural daylight with glass walls for transparency and connectivity,

Building flexibility into the design.

We know education is changing and changing fast, in large part because of technology. So we designed Marysville STEM Early College High School not just for today, but to meet the needs of future students and educators as well. Throughout the building, flexible learning spaces are supported by state-of-the-art technology. Small classrooms, shared spaces, glass garage doors between rooms, unassigned open classrooms, and reconfigurable furniture all promote adaptability today and in the future.

Linking technology to outcomes to make learning more transparent.

With the local Honda plant playing a huge part in the Marysville community, the school district had a unique opportunity to tap into its resources to help prepare the STEM curriculum. With Honda’s input, we designed a wing of lab spaces including an advanced robotics lab. By adding large windows and glass walls for light and removing smaller interior rooms, we created connectivity and transparency. Students can view the entire design, engineering, and advanced manufacturing process and how the technology connects to the actual product or outcome. The open, bright, modern design not only supports learning, it helps attract more students, including young women, to engineering.

Establishing collaboration zones to foster learning everywhere.

Learning doesn’t just happen in the classroom. So OHM Advisors created several innovation hubs throughout the building that invite students to connect, communicate, and collaborate. The open spaces feature white boards, glass writing surfaces, flexible furniture, and integrated technology to inspire brainstorming and idea sharing between groups of students and educators.

Sharing with the community.

While most of the renovations were interior, OHM Advisors and the district chose to open up two sections of exterior wall. We added two-story glass windows to bring in daylight and support learning while giving the community a glimpse of the energy and transformation happening within. The window walls make the building feel less institutional and send a clear message that education is evolving in Marysville.

Completing the picture.

Instead of turning the finishing touches over to an interior design firm, OHM Advisors and the district worked together to select colors and furniture. These features are critical to establishing the school as a non-traditional learning environment and they have a major impact on the way students and educators interact with the space. We put the same thought and care into selecting bright paint colors and choosing flexible, reconfigurable, soft furniture that we put into designing the space itself.

"Our students will walk out of here with a skill set that they can use right away."
Kathy McKinniss - Principal, Marysville Early College High School

Awards and Honors


Advancing Communities

It’s well known that great schools create great communities and that people often choose communities based on the quality of the education system. In Marysville, the STEM Early College High School will truly set the community apart as being invested in education. And not just for high school students. Area college students and community members will have access to the facility as well via adult education and training programs.

Honda, the area’s largest employer, benefits, too. As a partner in the project, Honda will reap the rewards of having the next generation of workers trained in its own backyard. Whether the STEM school student choose to go on to college or directly into the workforce, they will be graduating with specialized skill sets and creative thinking and problem solving abilities that will fuel important contributions to their communities.

Project Highlights

  • Automotive and advanced robotics labs
  • 3D modeling labs
  • Prototyping and welding labs
  • Modifiable science labs with integrated technology
  • Digital media, IT network and PC labs
  • Physical therapy and mock healthcare labs
  • Project-based labs
  • Small group rooms
  • Innovation and collaboration hubs
  • Visible teachers’ workroom
  • Reconfigurable furniture
  • Glass garage doors between classrooms to accommodate team teaching/learning
  • White boards and smart boards
  • Laptop ports connected to wall-mounted monitors
Deep architectural experience.
Design for 21st Century Learners.

Preparing students to thrive in a global economy.

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