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Archive for February, 2006
Introduction to Design Patterns February 28th, 2006

A pattern describes a problem that occurs over and over again in our environment; and then describes the core of the solution in such a way that you can use the solution a million times over without ever doing it the same way twice.

Design Patterns Home

Bridges Between Architectural Education Models February 27th, 2006

Posted as an open-challenge by Pablo Campos Calvo-Sotelo, PhD Architect, University Campus Planning & Design, as the beginning of a larger conversation starter:

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“Bridges between models”:

In other words, the idea would be to explore and review how different cultures have generated different educational archetypes, and how those models have influenced other cultures.

For example, the oxbridge qaudrangle to the American campus birth, or the American Campus to the European Universities in the XX Century

Any such models and archetypes come to mind? Your thoughts?

Cutting the Engine and Allowing Ourselves to Catch the Breeze February 27th, 2006

The following was submitted by Robert Jackson, Jackson McElhaney Architects, the principal architect for the Warren Skarren Environmental Learning Center (seen above in the DesignShare Blog masthead):

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In the future nothing will be more important than environmental awareness and a basic understanding of ecology (the interconnected relationships between all living and non-living things). Read the rest of this entry »

No Such Thing As Flexible Space February 27th, 2006

The following post was submitted by William Brenner:

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I frequently see the term “flexible space” used in association with what is presented as progressive thinking about school design. I submit that there is no such thing as flexible space, except perhaps in an Einsteinian sense. Read the rest of this entry »

A Time Capsule of Reading February 27th, 2006

Imagine a ‘time capsule’ sitting beside a conceptual dirt hole in the ground. Imagine standing there with a shovel in hand. Imagine a group of kids — ages from infant to nearly-graduating-from-high-school — standing on the other side of the hole, each looking at you with curious and hopeful eyes. And imagine a satchel over your shoulder holding precisely 5 books of your choice that you will put into the time capsule, and cover up by shovel and dirt not to be opened until the first day of school in 2026. Read the rest of this entry »

Learning Environments February 27th, 2006

This post was written by Dr. Wayne Jennings, Chair of the International Association for Learning Alternatives as a challenge to traditional view of the classroom image as the predominant vision for the future of educational facilities:

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The first thing people think about schools is classrooms.

I suppose there should be a few classrooms or seminar rooms for group learning and discussion. However, classrooms convey an image of rows of desks with the teacher at the front of the room and group-paced instruction. While familiar, I hope that image fades from practice. Read the rest of this entry »

We Versus Me In the Classroom February 27th, 2006

This post was written by Roger Leeson, AIA, Architect, LS3P Associates, LTD in response to the “grave conflict between social learning and customizing the experience of learning to suit each and every individual taste and style.”

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The United States has embraced the principle of universal education in support of democracy.

Our founders were the product of enlightenment values and most received an education in “the classics”. This tradition has continued for centuries. The now reviled, “sage on stage” provided a structure of common social experiences that reinforced common values. Education is a social action in this country. Read the rest of this entry »

Design Awards 2006 February 24th, 2006

School planner/designer or just a lover of the built learning environment, especially the innovative ones that are taking on the added challenge of having an impact on learning and community development? This is for you!
Read the rest of this entry »

Putting Your Philosophical Poker Cards on the Table February 22nd, 2006

“Men of integrity, by their very existence, rekindle the belief that as a people we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical community is a corrupt community.” — John Gardner

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“This I Believe…”:

On NPR there is a segment each week called “This I Believe…” which grew out of Edward R. Murrow’s similar work in the ’50’s which sought “to point to the common meeting grounds of beliefs, which is the essence of brotherhood and the floor of our civilization.” Continuing in that tradition, Read the rest of this entry »

Back to 1st Grade… February 22nd, 2006

“Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.” — Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

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No matter who you are — school designer or high school student, policy maker or college professor, urban planner or community activist — I want to ask you to do one quick thing:

Read the rest of this entry »

“School Design Institute” Supports Gulf States February 20th, 2006

Note: The following story came by an article-link from the good folks at Edutopia.

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Appreciate seeing Ron Bogle and the American Architectural Foundation (co-supporters of the “Great Schools By Design” summit that took place last fall) in the center of this critically important and still-unfolding story down in the Gulf States. No way to predict where things will go for these communities and their schools, but seems that any progress at this point is good progress:

From “Design Experts Share Ideas On Rebuilding Destroyed Schools”, WLOX-Channel 13, Biloxi - Gulfport - Pascagoula:

Read the rest of this entry »

R.O.I. (Return on Investment) Thinking February 19th, 2006

“Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” — Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

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2 Questions:

1. Which has greater impact — the ability to plan/design/build a remarkable learning environment that is handed over to the community or helping a community ‘be remarkable’ in whatever built learning environment they possess?

2. Where is the greatest R.O.I. (Return on Investment) when all is said and done?

Read the rest of this entry »

Becoming a Design-Oriented Story-teller While Still Looking After the Community February 16th, 2006

Ever run into Seth Godin?

If not, a good place to start is his near-famous All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World. On page 30, he offers the following short bit of advice in the “post-Golden Age of Marketing”:

“There are only two things that separate success from failure in most organizations today:
Read the rest of this entry »

Letters to a Young School Designer February 16th, 2006

If you’re a school planner and/or designer, builder, or otherwise in the mix of creating new schools on a regular basis, this question is for you:

If you could ask a young school-designer-to-be — think an 18-year old in his/her first semester of an undergraduate architecture studio course — what ONE SINGLE piece of advice would you give to them to help them understand the significant responsibility that lies ahead?

If you’re a student, a parent, a school leader or teacher, a community member, or someone else who does not typically play a leading role in the design, planning, and/or building of new schools, this question is for you:

Likewise, if you were speaking to the same young school-designer-to-be, what ONE SINGLE request would you make of them so that they could best serve your long-term needs, wishes, and dreams?

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Reference: Hopefully Rainer Maria Rilke and his Letters to a Young Poet will forgive my off-the-cuff reference in the title, although I do think there is an easy article concept for someone in this DesignShare community to write along the same spirit.

Hint, hint; nudge, nudge.

Re-Thinking the Classroom…and the Classroom Wall February 16th, 2006 “We know a great deal about how people learn and about designing schools that enhance learning.” — Randy Fielding February 16th, 2006

The point of blogging is reaction, response, collaboration, compromise. Not expertise…and certainly not the little bit of knowledge I have at this point i my life.

Randy offered a healthy and spirited response to my “Knowing Nothing and Powerful Beyond Measure” post (2.14.06).

(If I were a betting man, I’d wager the first crisp dollar bill on Randy’s response over my initial provocation. In its entirety, here is Randy’s response that deserves certainly more light of day than to be buried in the ‘comment’ section.)

Agree or disagree with either of us, feel free to add your voice:

“Wow Christian, you have responded with wonderful vigor to my nudge to follow Shakespeare’s advice to “Arm me with Audacity!” I disagree with a major point in your commentary, but love the spirit of it!

Read the rest of this entry »

Leaping Forward Beyond Best Practices February 16th, 2006

As we begin to think not only about our seat at the table as this blog conversation begins, but the larger goals of producing great learning environments suited for the future, I am brought back to an early moment in Prakash and Randall’s The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for 21st Century Schools.

Jeffrey Lackney offers the following in his introduction: Read the rest of this entry »

“Down the Rabbit Hole” February 16th, 2006

“… thought Alice, and she went on. “Would you tell me, please, which
way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where –” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“– so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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For a split second, let us forget about blog provocations. Simply a question:

In the above equation, where do we as school designers find ourselves:

Standing in the footprint of Alice or sitting upon the limb of the Cheshire Cat?

Read the rest of this entry »

Knowing Nothing and Being Powerful Beyond Measure February 14th, 2006

“Knowledge about yourself binds, weighs, ties you down; there is no freedom to move, and you act and move within the limits of that knowledge.” — Jiddu Krishnamurti (b. 1895), Indian mystic. Krishnamurti’s Notebook, entry for Sept. 21, 1961, Harper & Row (1976)

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The school of the future is waiting for you. Actually, it is waiting for all of us. Practically waving us forward. A place where learning is central. And a ‘built environment’ that actually seems to have a role in that reality.

That’s the good news.

The bad news, however, is that none of us will know how to design it.

Why?

Because standing at the edge of the 21st century, we really don’t know how to get there. Or what it’ll even be called. Or, ultimately, how to give it form.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Chicken and the Egg: A Re-Framing of Language February 13th, 2006

“All grown-ups were first children, but few of them remember it.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery, written as an introduction to a friend in The Little Prince

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Welcome to the DesignShare blog!

As we embark upon this collective journey of conversation via the newly formed DesignShare blog, we consider the possibility of “the chicken and the egg” paradox remaining forever part of our school design adventure.

In other words, it is possible that the issue of learning environments being designed via the ‘efficiency’ vs ‘engagement’ question will forever ‘be’ the debate. Perhaps this tension is necessary. The sky and the ground, so to speak. It is possible that with our current language and experiences we may never tell which truly came first — the proverbial “school design chicken-and-the-egg” — and which will win out in the end. But perhaps there is something that is within our reach which can shift the way we set out to create lasting and meaningful learning environments.

The key, then, lies in beginning to re-frame our language, the language specifically associated with schools and the design of learning environments of all shapes and varieties. Then and only then will we be in a position to reach more satisfying and dynamic solutions. And only then will we truly know that the environments we co-create truly support the learning process and the development of all students.

This challenge is greater than the ability of any single designer or school leader. It is greater than a single architectural firm or school district. It is greater than innovative funders or dynamic school reform models alone. It is even ultimately greater than an unquestioned community success story.

The challenge is great enough to need all of us. A collection of voices. A range of life experiences. A diverse body of expertise. A willingness to ask questions never before uttered…and allow them to lead us to epiphanies never before imagined. A realization that the conversation itself may be the ’solution’.

This is our collective journey to discover the language that will support the future of school and learning environment design. It is the basis for the DesignShare blog conversation.

We welcome your input, your ideas, your questions, your challenges, your experiences, your research, your campfire stories, and your companionship.

Sincerely,

The DesignShare blog team

What is DesignShare? DesignShare is the central address for the very best in educational facilities and their impact on the learning process. DesignShare provides an invaluable service as a facilitator of ideas and resources about best practices and innovation in schools from early childhood through the university level. Who is DesignShare’s audience? DesignShare reaches a truly global community of professionals. More than 150,000 architects, planners, educators, and facility decision makers visit the site each month. Architects who specify products for schools and universities make up over half of DesignShare’s total readership. Who are our sponsors?
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