As summer was coming to a close and COVID-19 remained pandemic, schools preparing for in-person learning were integrating outdoor classrooms into their plans. The outdoor learning initiative within the Portland, Maine public schools was looking for structures that would give spatial definition to outdoor classrooms while also providing teachers and students with outdoor shade and some protection from the elements.
With schools located across Maine's largest city (including schools on two islands), it was important to select a relatively turn-key solution that would work district-wide. Equally important, the City of Portland wasn't looking for a cheap fix that would get tossed aside once the pandemic is over. Portland Schools wanted structures that would be attractive and beneficial for outdoor learning for years to come.
After reviewing several options, Portland Schools chose a free-standing four-point shade wing that we produced in partnership with Duvall Design. Designed to provide shade and shelter in the warmer months of the school calendar, we knew the wings would come down and be stored away in summer and winter. To make this a reasonable task for school facilities staff, we fabricated and installed the wings with removal and re-installation in mind. The aluminum poles and lightweight wings are easy to remove and store while the four anchor stakes and the base pads for the two poles can all remain in ground below grade year-round.
We’re quite excited about how these wings are working out, but perhaps our greatest reward has been our time working at the public schools across Portland. In this remarkable time of social distancing and isolation, it has been a heartwarming experience to be on school grounds for site visits and installations—meeting teachers, principals, and students with their boundless curiosity and joy in being together.
Learn more about our fabric structures for outdoor classrooms, including pricing and features, and inquiry about shade structures for your school or campus here.