Peter Brown Architects has joined with BCworkshop to help DISD and Get Healthy Dallas envision the new Entrepreneurial Culinary Arts Program at Lincoln High School in Dallas. During a recent brainstorming session, we were wildly impressed with students at Lincoln and Pearl C Anderson Middle School. The two schools linked into one workshop via DISD's new Skype connection (perhaps the first cross-school collaborative e-meeting in the school district).
After hearing a brief description of program concepts, the group went on a virtual tour of other schools around the country that are innovating with culinary and nutrition programs -- including learning about Sarah Elizabeth Ippel and the Academy for Global Citizenship in Chicago and Blythewood High School in South Carolina.
During the workshop, students described a dynamic program that builds on health and nutrition, fosters teamwork, invites neighbors into the school, takes meals to home-bound and homeless, and works hand-in-hand with other strengths within the school -- featuring dining with live music, preparing game-day meals for athletes, and working with the print, radio, TV, and social media programs at the school to spread the excitement.
The school is a strategic component of the Grow South plan recently announced by Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings. With the mayor’s vision of strengthening schools and strengthening communities, and filled with students like those who wowed the Entrepreneurial Culinary Arts workshop, Lincoln High School will be one to watch.
THE CLASSROOM, published in 2010 features an essay "Connecting Learning and Learning Environments". Through the article, Peter Brown establishes a precedent for intertwining education and design, then illustrates ideas shaping the next generations of school design based on shifts that are occurring within the current educational landscape. The book is available from WASMUTH. This post is number seven in a series of seven.
The culture of a school both reflects and shapes the culture of the local community. In addition, school facilities are a significant capital investment, most often funded over many years by the school community. The ongoing stewardship of nurturing a school campus and sustaining a school culture is an important element of the ongoing and generational success of the school.
While the primary purposes of school facilities are educating students, a school facility has many constituents. Understanding the value systems of the constituents plays an important role in creating a school culture that is supported and nurtured by the community. The school then becomes a network of interested groups that support the learning and developmental goals of students.
At the center of the network are learning goals for individual students. These goals are facilitated by anticipating the tools, spaces, and organizational structures of teaching and learning. Local schools and school district have administrative responsibilities related to operating schools, ranging from financial and educational accountability to maintaining a secure learning environment. Parents are key stakeholders in student success and the transfer of school culture from generation to generation. And the community is a significant stakeholder–strategically organized, schools play an important role in cultural, workforce, economic, and community development. Developing layered strategies to address opportunities for a school’s constituents enhances the ongoing sustainability of a school and community culture.
Riverview High School (originally established in the 1950s) in Sarasota, Florida, envisioned a replacement high school designed to prepare students for success in the coming workforce – organizing 3,000 students by learning communities of 300, focusing curricular content on student interests, and supporting one-to-one student computers. Having outgrown the enrollment capacity of the original campus, and at the same time implementing a significant departure in curriculum, instruction, and physical organization of students, the school board elected to demolish the existing structure and rebuild on the same site.
The existing structure was a significant modern building by Paul Rudolph and widely recognized nationally and internationally as a seminal representation of the Sarasota School of Architecture. Expressive of a flexible steel frame and glass in-fill, the building was a demonstration of sustainable design for schools and for buildings in subtropical climates. Shading devices deflected the sun away from the building skin and reflected softer natural light into the building. With one full wall of windows in classrooms and three walls of clerestories, natural daylight filled the learning environments and natural ventilation flowed through the campus.
In 2008, an international design competition was held to explore alternate possibilities for Rudolph’s historic modern structure. The winning entry, submitted by Diane Lewis Architects, RMJM Hiller, and Beckelman+Capilino, proposed The Riverview Music Quadrangle. This music conservatory would consolidate and provide a permanent home for national and international programs already in operation in the Sarasota area. Classrooms converted to rehearsal studios, the courtyard converted to a large performance venue, and the dining facilities converted to galleries for music performances, banquets, and social events. The program was designed to support the new Riverview High School campus as well as the regional community in attracting world-class musicians to teach, research, and perform for the community.
The Riverview Music Quadrangle would therefore exist as an independent organization colocated on the school site. As a site strategy, a campus green bordered by a landscaped hedge was slipped under the existing Rudolph building, creating a lawn, or garden, to organize the campus and reestablish a historic campus green that was traditionally used by the school’s marching band for rehearsals and impromptu community performances. The hedge organized the site into clear functional zones for both the Quadrangle and the school and, in doing so, created a pedestrian-oriented campus instead of an auto-oriented campus.
In terms of stewardship, the Riverview Music Quadrangle proposal, preserved a significant financial asset for the community, restored a national cultural asset, developed programmatic synergy for the education community, and consolidated community arts and educational resources.
In Dallas, Texas, as a part of a $1.4 billion bond program, a new middle school was established in a socially and economically depressed area of the city. The project connected four city blocks to create Hector Garcia Middle School, a 13-acre campus for 1,200 students aged 11 to 14.
As an organizing strategy, the building is situated toward the north end of the site, creating an urban plaza at the street edge and allowing sports fields in the south. Classrooms placed along the north side of the building collect the north light and offer sweeping views of the city. Program areas that require less daylight are placed on the south side of the building, creating a natural buffer for the south light and heat gain. Areas that can be used by the public – gym, library, auditorium, and dining hall – are located at the edges of the building to invite and encourage the community to use the facility. Classrooms overlook the city, and the windows become teaching aids for teachers, describing activities at the fairgrounds, commerce centers, the city’s airports, and healthcare centers.
The school offers a bold strategy for addressing education in depressed areas. An inventory of nearby community assets placed the new school within four blocks of the city zoo, within two blocks of two elementary schools, eight blocks from a neighborhood high school, and six blocks from a nationally recognized magnet high school. The site for the middle school became a connecting point and resource for neighboring community assets. Instead of a site strategy that responded only to existing conditions, the building looks forward, anticipates, and encourages the neighborhood and the school community to think differently about itself, to leverage educational development as a vehicle for community, economic, and workforce development.
The conversations that shape ideas about learning and learning environments are critical as designers and educators work together to envision and create places for learning. The continual push for performance by schools and communities provides a rich terrain for innovative ideas for educational challenges. While new technologies and legislative and funding pressures for performance invite new ideas, conversations between educators and designers are critical in creating fundamentally human places: spaces that inspire the wonder of learning, celebrate the acquisition of knowledge, and bring understanding of context for an individual to their peers, community, and world. The School Museum at VS reflects on these innovations in the past century and through demonstration encourages this generation of educators and designers to continue the conversations.
PETER BROWN was the liasion for the Sarasota Architecture Foundation in communications with the school board during the Riverview competition process and the Principal Architect for Hector Garcia Middle School.
Peter Brown Architects recently facilitated a design planning workshop at Avenues World School. The New York campus of Avenues World School is located in Manhattan's Chelsea Neighborhood.
The workshop, designed to open a diaglog between educators and designers, created a forum for leading educators to talk about what they do and how they envision students, families, and the community using the facility. The discussion was organized into three broad categories.
Facinating conversations produced ideas that bridge learning and environment. Educators talked about the nature of a library, referencing Louis Kahn's Exeter Library, the nature of student discussions around Harkness Tables, the purpose of meeting together in a digital world, understanding what can only happen when people meet together face to face, integrating collaborative practices, learning from multiple sources, the effects of cultural immersion on learning spaces, and the opportunities of being locatied New Yorks' leading community of artists.
The dialog generated a set of guiding priciples on understanding furniture as the interface between the building and curriculum.
Workshop participants included: Tom Bonnell, Nancy Schulman, Marcia Tingley, Chris Whittle, Dominic Kozerski, Enrico Bonetti, Steve Hanon, Ray Bordwell, Caroline Greenbaum, Susan Robinson, Ben Newton, Skip Mattoon, Libby Hixon, Ty Tingley, Gardner Dunnan, Lyn Mattoon, Andy Clayman.
Ideas from the workshop sessions with renowned and talented thinkers form a basis for the furniture selection process at Avenues and will continue resonate in the work around our design studio.
The Avenues NYC campus is the first in a network of locations in the world's leading cities, read more at Avenues World School: What is Avenues?
Begin by thinking Avenues Beijing, Avenues London, Avenues São Paulo, Avenues Mumbai. Think of Avenues as one international school with 20 or more campuses. It will not be a collection of 20 different schools all pursuing different educational strategies, but rather one highly-integrated “learning community,” connected and supported by a common vision, a shared curriculum, collective professional development of its faculty, the wonders of modern technology and a highly-talented headquarters team located in New York City.
THE CLASSROOM, published in 2010 features an essay "Connecting Learning and Learning Environments". Through the article, Peter Brown establishes a precedent for intertwining education and design, then illustrates ideas shaping the next generations of school design based on shifts that are occurring within the current educational landscape. The book is available from WASMUTH. This post is number six in a series of seven.
In the coming years, the integration of technology has the potential create fundamental changes in the relationship between learning and learning environments. For the first time in history, at a large scale, technology allows for students in the classroom to connect with resources outside of the classroom. Additionally, resources that have historically only been available in the classroom are available anytime and any place, and lessons can be extended to occur outside of class time. Access to online course work allows content to be customized for individual student abilities, preferences, and pace. Real-time assessments inform teachers of daily progress of students.
The availability of content resources in and out of class time provides opportunities for significant changes in activities during the day as well as the utilization of spaces within a school facility. In Sweden, Kunskapsskolan (or Knowledge School) provides a highly customized education for students in the middle years through high school. Entering students set educational goals, which start at the desired end result and are factored into yearly goals, semester goals, weekly goals and daily goals. The core content is delivered through a digital portal, allowing students to move through the curriculum at their own pace to meet individual goals.
At the beginning of each week, students create a weekly plan that organizes individual educational goals and related time schedules. Each student in the school has a personalized, individualized schedule based on their individual goals. Teachers post weekly lecture schedules and work with students both formally and informally. In additional to traditional classroom and lecture spaces, the schools incorporate many places for individual and small group work. Corridors are eliminated in favor of formal and informal work areas. At any given time, students are completely utilizing the building, either in formal teaching spaces or informal learning groupings, teams of students working together to solve problems. At Kunskapsskolan, the digital portal allows a structure for course work that provides a great freedom in choosing how time is utilized, spaces are utilized, and teacher-student relationships are enhanced.
While technology is changing quickly, there are known elements that can be used in planning: We know that technology is continually faster and smaller. Small technology has much less of a spatial impact on the design of facilities than operational impact. The human component of education also provides known elements that can be used in design. Students need places for academic work and activity work and for working in groups and individually. There are some elements in planning for technology that are not known and that need flexibility for change as educational models transform: What does it mean to be networked to resources outside of classrooms; How to manage content and educational relationships that occur outside of the classroom; How to structure time and space to accommodate individual student pace; How to individualize content for student ability and interest.
THE CLASSROOM, published in 2010 features an essay "Connecting Learning and Learning Environments". Through the article, Peter Brown establishes a precedent for intertwining education and design, then illustrates ideas shaping the next generations of school design based on shifts that are occurring within the current educational landscape. The book is available from WASMUTH. This post is number five in a series of seven.
A significant shift has occurred in U.S. schools over the last decade: National laws requiring public schools to demonstrate that all students reach a base-line standard of knowledge. Traditionally, school performance models based on bell curves have been successful for easy-to-teach students, but less so for hard-to-teach students that are at the extremities of the curve – those students requiring acceleration or remediation. With the goal of reaching every student, schools are making strategic adjustments in many program and operational areas: evaluating curriculum, the organization of students into academic teams, the organization of time during the school day or week, working with educational and/or community partners, and in many cases increasing educational specialists working in small groups or one-on-one with students.
Increasingly, at the high school level, schools are organizing into small learning communities: students and teachers organized by small teams to better meet the academic and social needs of students. Small learning communities provide greater autonomy to the academic teams and often focus curriculum on topics or themes that are engaging to students. Academic teams generally offer a collection of spaces types that accommodate lectures, working in small groups, working on projects, and making presentations.
Schools are also looking at organizing time to allow large blocks of time to engage into the learning process. Barnette Magnet School, a K-8 magnet school in Fairbanks, Alaska, operates a program with both grade-level and multiage classes. In morning sessions, core teachers have three-hour blocks of uninterrupted time to cover core subjects in grade-level classes. In the afternoon, the school transforms into a multigrade exploratory program, offering courses that focus on student interest: music, dance, language, reading, science, robotics, plants, animals, and sports. The afternoon time slots also allow for acceleration and remediation in academic subjects. At the end of the week, students have the opportunity for “Friday in Fairbanks,” an unstructured time to allow students to take courses or lessons outside of the school – music, athletics, arts, or other community-based programs. The daily transformation from 16 classes of 24 students in the morning to approximately 32 classes of 12 students in the afternoon requires a facility strategy that can flex daily with the program. As school organizations look at strategies to reach the learning needs of all students, facility strategies are evolving to support the program.
One of the greatest experiences of working with schools is having a front row seat in seeing how children create when given open ended possibilities. I've been following Wesley Prep in Dallas for over six years now, and we've been working together over the last year in transforming their 40 year old buildings into 21st century learning environments for a hands-on, child centered, project-based academic program. One play area for the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders is across campus over a footbridge in a clearing next to a natural creek. Students have dubbed this clearing "The Bamboo Forest"
The Bamboo Forest is an open ended play space. Here students gather bamboo, create villages, societies, barter systems, spaces, and ornament. Traditions are passed year-by-year from one group to the next, organically shifting as new students come and older students graduate.
A couple of weeks ago, after a project meeting, I went to the Bamboo Forest to see this year's creations. And was in awe of the complexity and sophistication of the creations.
The clearing by the creek was a village, populated with a half-dozen bamboo structures, each with its own structural concept, each the creation of a team of builders (space builders, town builders, idea builders). One in particular stood out--a large structure that began as a defined space under the canopy of four mature trees. The tree trunks were linked together by bamboo walls, and bamboo ceilings further defined the spaces inside the structure. Stepping inside, the space was subdivided into four rooms: I imagined a foyer, ante room, and two private areas. The spaces were organic, like a transparent Richard Serra sculpture.
Then another layer of information had been added. Some walls had rails with pine cones dotting the structure, and others were woven with found materials: shimmering tape from a cassette reel, colorful plastic bags, ribbons and twine.
It's really informative to see HOW children create when given the opportunity to think outside of traditional boundaries. So often creative work in schools is defined by a 18" x 24" sheet of paper, a 4' x 6' bulletin board, or a letter sized ruled pad. Here students have a clearing, a forest with bamboo, and with the purity of a bird building a nest and the elegance of a spider spinning a web, the thinkers at Wesley Prep navigate NEW and BIG frontiers. With three years of the Bamboo Forest experience, I'll be interested in seeing what frontiers will challenge and excite the graduates of Wesley Prep.
The innovative Collegiate School is the nation's first Middle School Charter on a College Campus. The student-paced curriculum offers a blended mix of on-line activities, direct instruction, and group work. A partnership with Apple brings an iPad to each student to organize curriculum, assessment, and schedule. The school is receiving much attention from the state legislature, the Florida Department of Education, and US congressmen from the district. Last year at this time we were working with the college and school leadership to envision how spaces, technology, and schedules work together to create an educational model that allows students to meet individual goals at an individual pace. And it's so great to see the school in operation. Phase two implementation is in the works, more posts to come!
THE CLASSROOM, published in 2010 features an essay "Connecting Learning and Learning Environments". Through the article, Peter Brown establishes a precedent for intertwining education and design, then illustrates ideas shaping the next generations of school design based on shifts that are occurring within the current educational landscape. The book is available from WASMUTH. This post is number four in a series of seven.
Change is a fundamental issue in school planning – not whether a school will change, but how often. Flexible schools acknowledge that educational change will occur and are equipped to accommodate operational changes with ease.
Current funding models for public schools in the United States provide capital funding at the beginning of a building’s life span and ongoing operating funding over the life span of a facility. Rarely are additional significant capital funds available for several decades after the initial investment. Unlike corporate environments that occupy core and shell lease spaces that are renovated every 5
Schools also have varying horizons for changes: decade-by-decade, year-by-year, term-by-term, or changes that can occur daily. Three planning strategies that address operational change in educational environments are flexible planning, flexible spaces, and flexible classrooms.
Levelland – a cotton and petroleum producing community in West Texas – explored flexible planning concepts for their replacement elementary schools. With a site situated at the juncture between commercial and residential, the school design places public functions to the street, effectively extending the central business district on one side, and nestles academic teams toward the residential areas of the community.
The planning of the elementary schools is organized into flexible academic teams of 120 students and 6 teachers each. Over the life cycle of the school, team structures can change to allow grade level groupings, various styles of multiage groupings, even supporting a series of small schools with the overall structure. Considering a range of organizational strategies in the planning process allows the school to change operationally without significant (or any) renovations to accommodate organizational change.
The academic teams are programmed with a range of educational spaces to allow whole group, small group, large group, formal, and informal instruction. Classrooms open onto student resource commons, eliminating corridors, and expanding educational opportunities outside of classroom areas. The resource commons allows informal learning, group performances, large group lectures, and places to display and demonstrate the work product of students.
Classrooms are planned with a flexible furniture package that can be quickly reorganized to accommodate a range of instructional styles. Walls are retained for presentations, whole group discussions, small group discussions, and individual work, and can accommodate projection, writing, and display of student work. A variety of furniture types encourages formal and informal discussions, can be transformed to allow traditional lectures, seminars, group work, and individual work, and at times can be rolled away to allow presentations and performances. This degree of flexibility extends the functional life of the school by anticipating and encouraging change.