Industries for the Blind – Tracy’s Little Red School House

Tracy’s Little Red School House

Industries for the Blind
Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Begun in 1936 in downtown Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Industries for the Blind (IFB) has grown to become a self-sustaining, non-profit organization employing the largest number of visually impaired persons in the country.  Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse, one of IFB’s newest outreach endeavors, is a one-story, 4,000-square-foot Independent Learning Center that at once invokes old memories and new ideas, blurring boundaries between employment, classroom learning and daily living.  The three classroom building will be a place for orientation, mobility, health, self-care and adaptive home management education to children and adults, enabling and encouraging independent daily living for the visually impaired.

Tracy’s Little Red Schoolhouse embodies Industries for the Blind’s philosophy and continual effort to provide greater opportunity and assistance in independent living for the visually impaired.  The independent living program emphasizes skills essential for managing the complexities of, and adapting to, day-to-day living including comprehensive rehabilitation for independent living, educational services, computer and vocational training, and social and recreational activities.

On the exterior the red lap siding, double-hung windows and shingled roof play off the iconic images of the single room school houses of the past.  Above the roof, and operated with a pull rope to the interior, sits the familiar school bell.

The large front porch for outdoor classes and student gathering greets the students as they enter the first of three wayfinding intersections within the building.  Using bright and contrasting colors, different floor textures and varying ceiling heights the visually impaired can easily identify where they are by look, feel and sound.  These intersections happen only at significant places; at reception, classroom entrances and toilets.  The three classrooms are intended to serve distinct and different needs, from artistic and general classes to hands on independent living skills education.

Design & Construction Team

Architect: Owen Architecture,pllc 939 Burke Street, Suite D, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Structural Engineering: Moorefield Engineering, PC, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Interior Designer: Hayden Design, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Construction: Shelco, LLC, Winston-Salem, North Carolina