Edgewood High School

Edgewood High School (EHS) in Madison, Wisconsin is a private Catholic school with roots dating back to the 1870s. While most original structures have been replaced, one building from the 1960s still serves just under 500 students in grades 9–12. Students on campus also have access to some facilities that are shared with the nearby Edgewood College and Edgewood Campus School, such as the Sonderegger Science Center — the first academic science facility to accommodate kindergarten through higher education students. Each school, however, boasts a library of its own.

When EHS embarked on a multi-year project to upgrade several spaces, including remodeling a historic building and updating the library and study areas, they chose Demco as their partner. The teams worked together to create engaging spaces for teens to collaborate, choose the right easy-to-clean and comfortable furniture, add configurable pieces that could be regularly rearranged, and most importantly, make EHS a place where teachers and students want to be.  Plus, high school president Mike Elliot said, “[Demco] worked closely with our contractor to make sure that the infrastructure supported our goals.”

First impressions matter at EHS, and the new library front desk reflects that motto. Demco helped select the Demco Technolink® Reference Desk, which utilizes modular design to create an ergonomic space for library staff, but also acts as a visual beacon for students seeking support and resources. The round shape also appealed to EHS’s desired aesthetic for the space.

While new additions can transform a space, not every project includes replacing existing furnishings. This is for a number of reasons. In some cases, history or sentiment can create barriers, but more commonly, budgetary concerns find teams looking for solutions that are less impactful on the bottom line. Shawna Ley, the Learning Environment Consultant from Demco working on this project, had a great solution for EHS’s challenges. “Shawna proposed retrofitting our existing Demco library shelving with new end panels and tops to make it look new. The transformation worked, and enabled us to stay on budget, using our limited funds for new pieces that blended perfectly with the old, refurbished ones,” says Marykay Zimbrick, the chair of the EHS board of trustees.

Creating dynamic spaces with flexible furnishings may be what Demco does best. President Elliot agreed: “Shawna emphasized the need for any new furniture to be flexible in the space, as learning needs change. The furniture we selected is easily moved around to create different learning and meeting spaces in the library.” For EHS, that meant using Muzo Kite Tables and Smith System® Interchange® Student Desks that roll and configure so that the different activities within the library can be easily accommodated. They can be used as makerspace surfaces just as easily as hubs for group projects or individual workstations, plus they wipe clean easily.

The project at Edgewood High School was wrapping up in the summer of 2020. Time was of the essence while navigating a “new normal” during a supply chain crisis, in addition to global pandemic concerns taking the project into unchartered territory. Meetings that had been in-person shifted to virtual platforms, and Demco was charged with keeping the project on task and minimizing delays. Ultimately, the project was completed on schedule, even in light of new challenges like reconfiguring the space to meet the new Covid-19 mitigation requirements and pivoting into hybrid instruction. Having flexible furnishings turned out to be a key decision.

Location: Madison, WI
Client: Edgewood High School
Demco Consultants: Stephen Gower, Design Manager; Shawna Ley, Learning Environment Consultant
Completion Date: 2020