Sunday, June 6, 2010

What happened to the "PeaPoD"?

Wow! DeKalb Parent has shared with us a fantastic new award-winning design for temporary portable classrooms created by Perkins+Will Architects. This environmentally healthy "green" design was created for Druid Hills High School as an entry in this international design competition and was deemed the Winner of Modular Category for: 2009 Open Architecture Challenge: Classroom. The "PeaPoD" was also named Best Re-Locatable Classroom Design in the Open Architecture Challenge".

We must investigate the feasibility of building these modulars in lieu of the multi-million dollar annual contract for renting old-fashioned, tired, environmentally unfriendly trailers. Please, encourage your board member to insist on implementing this award-winning green initiative.

Below is a description from the website:

The PeaPoD portable classroom implements cost-conscious building materials to create a learning environment which can be adapted to any environment. With generous daylighting, operable windows, and natural ventilation, the PeaPoD can operate with significantly lower utility costs while at the same time providing a wonderful and refreshing educational experience to the students and teachers. Numerous design features such as sun shades, integrated rainwater collection, photovoltaic roof panels, and sustainable materials including FSC certified wood, high-reflective roofing and bio-based insulation and flooring, make the PeaPoD an excellent example of passive and active green building strategies. Creative thinking behind classroom standards such as marker boards, group work tables, and computer stations are evident in the PeaPoD’s interiors. The interiors are comprised of walls which slide to reveal breakout learning space, storage, glazing, or teaching surfaces. Each side of the PeaPoD serves a different purpose, whether it is a wet wall with bathroom facilities, a glass wall which opens to provide access to an exterior classroom space, or a deep wall that provides ample storage.

It is no secret that every student learns differently; similarly every teacher teaches differently. Classroom environments which are adaptive and can meet all of these needs are proven to be the most successful. The goal of any classroom is to have inspired teachers and engaged students. If these are in place there is no limit to the success of everyone involved. This type of adaptive learning environment can happen, and it can happen anywhere: Portable Educationally Adaptive Product of Design, the PeaPoD.


For detailed files to download, visit the main website:
Open Architecture Network


Anonymous said...

This is a great design, but when the last three people in charge of Sam Moss have been a former principal, an administator indicted under the RICo act, and now another former principal, you're not going to have someone with a real construction background who will appreciate its brilliance.

Anonymous said...

I don't really understand the statement that the pods were designed for Druid Hills. They were not used. DHHS had the same ratty trailers everyone else has.

Since DCSS has condemned the teachers and students at Chamblee HS to life in a crumbling, rotting, moldy building for at least 4 to 5 more years, DCSS should replace the 6 trailers at CCHS with these pods to relieve the chronic over-crowding. One of the teachers who is leaving the school told me that classes were being held in storage rooms this past year. Chamblee should become the "test location" for the pods.

Anonymous said...

They have trailers all over the county that are just siting and have not been in use for a very long time. Yet they pay for them anyway. A person at the sam moss center told reid about it and nothing was ever done. This is what you have when you have a person who was a principal in charge. Steve was a principal not someone who knows the in and out of construction or the day to day needs of that building. This is why we have such a mess in the county now.

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 5:54

No, they were not used at Druid Hills - I have no idea why the Druid Hills name is attached. The design was created for a competition, possibly for architecture students (although Perkins+Wills' name is attached, so I'm not sure).

The only explanation I can come up with is that someone associated with the design was familiar with Druid Hills and used it as the springboard for the idea. As far as I know, this design never went beyond this stage.

The website is pretty cool - it shows several views of the pods as well as other designs that were actually built in other places and it shows them in use.

Cerebration said...

Lots of interesting files to view at the website --

One in particular is the survey -


Interview with Dekalb County General Maintenance & Portables Director

How many portables does DCSS have?
552 total
(300 + single wide, 200+ double wide, 26 modulars)

What types of portables does DCSS utilize?
Single Wide Units : 14'x45' (hold 29 total)
Double Wide Units : 24'x32' (hold 33 total)
Modular Units : 64'x66' (four classrooms, two toilets & divided by central hallway)

What is the average cost per portables?
$225 per month (single wide)
$335 per month (double wide)
$1,870 per month (modular)

Does DCSS prefer to lease or own units?
DCSS prefers to lease units mainly due to warranty and service issues. Purchasing units leaves
limited warranty coverage for only one year. Leasing relieves DCSS from most service issues.

How many trailers does DCSS own?
200+ (DCSS has trailers they've used since the 1970's still in service ‐ they try to maximize the
lifespan of each unit)

Who does DCSS lease portables from?
Single & Double Wide Units: William Scotsman
Portables: Modspace

Cerebration said...

Continued . . .

Is ADA access required?
ADA access is waived if portables are only limited use.
ADA access is required when portables are used for swing space during construction

Where does DCSS store portables?
DCSS typically keeps unused portables on the previous site until a designation has been
assigned. If there is no need, they are kept off site at Panthersville Stadium (DCSS community
stadium in south DeKalb). Leased units that are not in use are sent back to the manufacturer.

Who is responsible for moving the portables?
DCSS has a special mover they've utilized since the 1970's who moves their trailers.
The moving company has special permits and moves units under DCSS direction.

What schools utilize portables?
Elementary, middle and high schools use portables. The majority of portables are at high
schools (few schools with larger populations). The only restrictions DCSS has is that classes for
grades K‐3 are not allowed to be in portables.

What classes utilize portables?
Classes without utility or space requirements use portables (math, English, foreign language,
social studies). Sciences and career techs do not utilize portables due to the size requirements
and utility hookups necessary.

Cerebration said...

Download all kinds of files here -

Cerebration said...

Of special interest is the student survey -

Anonymous said...

In Fulton County, they have (had) a policy about portable units. If portables weren't needed, usually because a new school had opened, they left them for a school year in case enrollment was more than projected. After that, they hauled them off.

In DeKalb, having trailers is viewed by some BOARD MEMBERS and principals as a way to advocate for more, more, more for your schools. If your school has trailers, surely the school needs capital investment.

I am sorry to say but I think we have some BOARD MEMBERS that the last 3 superintendents (and probably the current one) just can't find the inner strength to argue with. It is easier to acquiesce.

Kim Gokce said...

This may have been true but is no longer: "Sciences and career techs do not utilize portables due to the size requirements
and utility hookups necessary."

The DeKalb Tech North Folks (now CK Career Tech) spent the past year in modules. Not sure which classes will be in there this fall ...

I believe these concepts were developed strictly for the open architecture challenge. As conceptual designs, they simply sought out a case study to use in the design. So, I doubt these were ever "on the table" for DHHS.

I looked over the material last night and didn't see any cost of ownership estimates. My instincts tell me these would be a bit more than $200-300 per month to implement. Perhaps not and the point is whether the management team has done a professional job of alternatives analysis with temporary capacity planning.

Ella Smith said...

I suspect there also may be politics involved. Think of the money these guys make renting these trailers to the school system.

The PeaPod look the way to go to me. They have bathrooms so the kids do not have to go in and out in the rain and weather to use the bathroom.

I have taught in one of those long skinny trailers and it is a horrible environment and I am a special education teacher who had small classes.

The one issue here which must be brought up and it is not a plesant one is safety. The first time I ran for school board (10 years ago). A guy who works for the school system asked me to come to the south side of the county to see what happens when a gun shot is shot through a trailer. It went through the trailer, through the bookcases and out the other side. I do not know about you but I do not want any of our children in Dekalb County in trailers. How much safer are the walls of the PeaPods? If the walls are thicker and more safe for our children then we need to bite the bullet and cut costs somewhere else and get safer portable for our students.

These portables end up being permanent structures in our county. I do not see what the cost is. They are just a shell. It is not like the owner puts money into these trailers. I feel the school system needs to look into buying some of these PeaPods instead that they can move around the county.

Our children should be put first and putting them in a structure which is unsafe is not putting them first.

Anonymous said...

This is a really nice concept. I love the look of these classrooms. I'm not convinced that paying rent on a 20 year old trailer is the way to go. If the "temporary" space is being left long term, then the school system should be placing a more permanent structure on the school property. Building an annex might cost more up front, but in the long run, it would be better for our kids. Two trailers were placed on the grounds of the elementary school my daughter attended, when she was in the 2nd or 3rd grade. She is now 25 years old and those trailers are still there. Over the years more have been added.

Anonymous said...

Maintenance on the ancient, time-worn, uninsulated, non-sound proofed, unsanitary, rodent-infested narrow office trailers used as narrow classrooms (you can only line up two rows of desks down the length of the trailers) is NOT provided by the manufacturer.

Maintenance crews from Sam Moss spray over the graffiti (exterior trailer walls serve as excellent graffiti canvases) and the local plant manager either repairs electrical/HVAC problems on his own or calls for the Sam Moss professionals.

There is no maintenance K for these trailers, or it has long since expired.

Premier Dekalb!!!

Anonymous said...

Local construction companies don't use William Scotsman to rent trailers.

Why? They are way too expensive.

Figures that DCSS has a big fat contract with Scotsman.

Anonymous said...

Be realistic. If it is new, useful and cost effective, it will not see the light at DCSS. It must be PC from the right vendor, which means... no change.

Anonymous said...

Over the years i have worked for dekalb the trailers have been a problem. Graffiti on them every week and always on weekends. The roofs leak, mold, mildrew, no a/c or heat, windows broken, snakes, roaches, rats, doors will not lock and have bullet holes all the time. They are not safe, railings are loose and the children have to walk through mud.

The sad thing is the admin. have the nice new clean offices and the children and teachers have to try and teach in these nasty trailers. All the money that have been wasted could have been used for the children. The custodian don't want to clean them and the people at the sam moss center take forever to get out. Parents really need to demand that children not be in these trailers. But if they have to then demand that they are taken care of. I have seen and heard the comments that they will get to them when ever.

Reid had no interest in the trailers,or the schools she just wanted the building that she was in to have sound proof walls, new carpet, new furniture, her private entrance, private kitchen and r/r. Tax payers need to demand that there children have the best and stopped the system from using there money for there on private use . Hire people that are trained in the positions and get rid of the family and friends then just maybe the children will get what they should. And people do this because the teachers are really being treated badly.

Anonymous said...

Cere: As you are aware a number of your posts got feedback today. Thank you for the blog.

It's reassuring to read the passion across the district wanting to make things right, for the students, for a change.

Keep the faith Cere, and keep the passion bloggers! Thanks to all, from another contributor.

Anonymous said...

The rental agreement with the trailer vender "relieves DCSS from most service issues."

What a laugh!

So true! DCSS has relieved itself of most of its educational service issues as well!

Anonymous said...

Southwest Dekalb High School has, and continue to have modules. They were there when Francis Edwards was the board member for the school. Jay Cunningham is the current board member for the school and he along with CLew have done absolutely nothing to remove those awful looking modules off the premises. The PeaPod designs look great and more cost efficient overall. When you have people looking out for their own personal gain, they are not concerned about the well-bing of teachers, and especially students. I hope we get a new super that is concerned about education.

Anonymous said...

At $225 a month it costs DCSS $2700 a year for just one trailer. Based on the estimates on the number in use and costs in this blog, we are spending approximately $2,197,440 a year on trailers and a few modular classrooms. Are y'all sure that we are renting these trailers?

Anonymous said...

Cere: I know this isn't the right thread, but let's not loose sight of the CRCT cheating probe. Seems the AJC is only looking at APS.

What's happening?

It should be a crime for a teacher to let a student think they're ready for college when they aren't... only for the student to find out when the college puts them in remedial everything.

Ella Smith said...

Tonight at the board meeting I thought they said they single wides they were renting for about 333 a month.

The reason they rent those verses the doublewide or modules is because of money. They save money by renting the single wide trailers.

Anonymous said...

DCSS trailers are just plain nasty...It is almost impossible to teach in them. If the heat or air is turned on, you can hear. When it rains, there's a wet soggy mess.
They stink from mold. It is difficult for students to see what the teacher is doing. They are great place for fights to break out. Very little security.