The University of Central Florida

Reimagining a research center to create agile, engaging, and collaborative spaces.

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The Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute (TJEEI)at the University of Central Florida is dedicated to preparing and retaining exceptional student education teachers, and related professional educators , who serve children and adults with special needs. TJEEI provides families of children with disabilities, UCF faculty and students, and educators access to current information, resources, and opportunities. TJEEI’s Director, Dr. Trey Vasquez, attended the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Summit in Orlando. After interacting with NorvaNivel products and meeting Jolene Levin, the CEO, and Katelyn, Director of Education, Dr. Vasquez reached out to Katelyn to discuss further steps. He envisioned a space that could truly reflect the innovation and collaboration taking place in the institute, with the agility and ability to accommodate and serve the needs of all their constituents – primary learners, and their parents, as well as their research students. NorvaNivel was the partner that could bring his vision to life.

The center had four main areas to reimagine:

  • A collaborative space for meetings, reception, and classes
  • Four research breakout rooms to conduct learner observation
  • An observation room to observe learners and confer
  • A work-study storage/changing room for learners in work study through Orange County Public Schools (OCPS)


The reimagined Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute was well-received. From professors to learners to parents, everyone appreciated the new space. In fact, the professors at the community open house for the space approached NorvaNivel about doing more spaces like the TJEEEI Institute. Dr. Vasquez remarked, “We have whiteboard space on all of the furniture allowing us to have impromptu writing events, meetings, planning events, and vision statements. And then we can switch gears, erase it, and have that actual doctoral class in here and do a traditional lecture-style piece. But then, at the same time, we can convert it to flexible space where we have collaboration zones and two or more folks can get together with the notion of establishing their ideas on paper.”

These reimagined spaces provide the Institute more than they had imagined. Having the ability to collaborate easily, reconfigure the space for different purposes, have access to connectivity, as well as a welcoming environment, the now inviting and engaging spaces have benefited the entire Toni Jennings Community.


After looking at the four spaces, Katelyn and Dr. Vasquez shared some ideas of what could go in the spaces to make them brighter, more agile, and more collaborative in nature. It was imperative that whatever pieces were chosen would accommodate learners of all ages with varying needs, as well as facilitate all the activities that happen in the main space.

While NorvaNivel’s Architectural and Design team usually provides comprehensive 3-D renders to bring our clients’ and partners’ visions to life, it was “solution at first sight” for the Institutes’ main collaborative space when Dr. Vasquez saw existing renderings of the NorvaNivel Conclave™ NNCG12 Collection. Not only would the Conclave setting seat up to 24 learners, its reconfigurable and modular design could facilitate endless types of learning – small group, partner, individual work, and more. For even more functionality, Katelyn and Vasquez chose to complement the Conclave Collection with a Scofa™ Booth SBO1, two SunshineOnACloudieDay™ High tables and NorvaBoards™, and the popular Round Table with award-winning RockerOtts™. The other spaces were designed with renders from NorvaNivel’s Architectural and Design team.

For the reception area, where parents and learners wait upon entry, they kept it simple with a GizGaz™ Collection, a Scaddie™ Mobile Desk, and a foldable PebbleTree™ Foldable Table, all in Gold and Black colors to reflect University of Central Florida’s “Knight Pride”.

All four Research Breakout Rooms were given the same highly functional pieces: The Scaddie™ Mobile Storage and Whiteboard; the PebbleTree™ Low Collection, its ergonomic and engaging design is ideal for young learners; the SunshhineOnACloudieDay™ Foldable Collection with MissOtts™  and a CrashPod™ cushion. As these spaces are dedicated to research, the colors for these spaces were limited to calming greens and blues.

The Research Observation Back Room needed to reflect collaboration and group meetings. They added a Scofa™ Booth SB02 Collection for group work and parent meetings, a GrassyOtt™ Dome, and comfortable Scofa™ Single Seats. Again, Knight Pride black and gold colors reigned. As connectivity is a main requirement for the room, every table surface was equipped with an on-board Power Module.

Finally, the study/storage room was transformed into a welcoming space with tons of storage for learners commuting to and from OCPS:  Bag Grab™ Hooks, a 12-tub Store & Draw™ Upholstered Caddy to sit and spread out on, and a 16-tub Store & Draw™ for even more personal storage. While this space started out as an overflow room with a lot of collection, it was imperative to Dr. Vasquez that the space held a clean and primary focus for the Orange County Public School work study learners.

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“I think the furniture that we have in here is incredible, we have a fantastic place to have collaborative opportunities with students and professors. It’s very innovative, we’re hoping that teachers see the structure of this, and find some ideas about how they might use it in their classrooms, and move away from a traditional classroom setting and get a little bit more excited about how the environment is structured.”

Kelly Schaffer Applied Behavior Analysis Program Coordinator for UCF



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This collection is designed to create the perfect space for explicit teaching and technology based learning.

An ideal space for face to face discussion and interaction.

A sit or stand collection with writable top and balance boards is the perfect space for an active learning environment.

Round table with optional whiteboard surface top is made to suit group learning and collaboration.

Designed for collobarative work in middle and high school learning spaces.

Soft edge rectangular table on flip frame for easy use and movement both in a learning space and among shared spaces.

Creating a learning space that allows learners to move between sitting on seats and sitting on the floor creates an ergonomic and engaging learning environment.

Our SunshineOnACloudieDay Foldable Collection is the ultimate learning tool. An essential element in any space, its whimsical design sparks creative thought and imagination.

Classroom furniture designed to be placed anywhere easily in a learning environment.

Creates a quiet space for peer to peer collaboration and learning.

Our Bag Grab hooks sit flush to a wall space and are not only fun and quirky, but durable.

Seats approximately 4-6 people with 12 tray spaces below for increased storage.

Seats approximately 4-6 people with 16 tray spaces.