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Awarding Innovative Educational Design: The School Construction News & Design Share Awards 2000 Program - Commentary
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By Jeffery A. Lackney Ph.D., RA,

This article appears in a slightly altered form in the September/October issue of School Construction News,, edited by Jay Schneider.

The award-winning projects - mix of K-12 schools and higher educational facilities - are unique in style, function, planning, and purpose, but all have one thing in common: they’ve won awards in the Awards 2000 Program, sponsored by School Construction News in conjunction with the Design Share Web site.
The Awards 2000 Program focused less on aesthetics and more on the creation of effective learning environments, making it unique among awards programs that traditionally recognize outstanding design. Our jurors rewarded schools that demonstrate thoughtful and rigorous evaluation of educational facility planning, management, and use. They looked for innovative design solutions that responded to current educational reforms, including small schools, learning communities, urban community schools, and charter schools.
Also making this award program unusual is the jury system itself. In contrast to traditional awards program in which projects are collected, a jury convened, and winners selected, the Awards 2000 jurors evaluated the projects over the Internet. The online format allowed us to easily convene a large and diverse group of jurors from around the world—all of whom discussed and evaluated the 33 project submissions during a two-week review period. The majority of submissions were received digitally and posted on a private Design Share link. Many of the jurors felt the online format demanded more of their attention, encouraging more in-depth deliberation than is usual in an awards program. A list of jurors is found at: Awards Jury
The results: twenty six schools received awards in a range of categories. This article will feature six schools: three POE (Post Occupancy Evaluation) winners and four Honor Award winners; one school, Davidson Elementary, won in both categories. A complete list of awards is featured at Awards 2000.
Now, on to the winners.

Jurors considered POEs the most significant aspect of this program. POEs determine the success of a building by evaluating how the facility is functioning, how teachers and students are utilizing the space, and how the educational process has changed as a result of the design—not in theory, but in reality. Evaluations improve educational architecture. Of the 33 entrants, only eight submitted POEs—a fact we’re attributing to a lack of experience in conducting the evaluations and the time and money they require. The jurors felt the following three projects contributed to the practice of educational design:

POE Honor Award
Davidson Elementary School, Davidson, NC
Adams Group Architects, PA and Henry Sanoff, AIA. Research team, publication one: Jennifer Hyde and James Rice, North Carolina State University; Professor Henry Sanoff, advisor. Publication two: Jennifer Killeen.

The Davidson Elementary School POE illustrates the value of direct observation. Adams Group designed enlarged hallways—or collaborative areas—for students and teaches, and the evaluation revealed just how differently each of these versatile spaces is being utilized. In some cases the hallways are personalized by students. Some teachers set up activity zones in the areas while others use the space for small reading groups. Older students utilize the area for tutorial and conference space. The hallways are so attractive to students that some teachers admit to using the privilege of hallway activity as a reward system.

The Davidson POE shows how physical design influences the learning environment as well as the management of the facility. project link drawing above right - child’s sketch

POE Merit Award
Central Tree Middle School, Rutland, MA
HMFH Architects Inc.

Commenting on the Central Tree Middle School POE, jurist Edward Kirkbride said “the content and format [of the POE] show a deep regard and respect for this phase of evaluating an architectural project. This POE, along with that of Davidson, should set the standard for further jury discussions and publication criteria.”

The Central Tree POE is very comprehensive and indicates what can be realized with a thorough evaluation process. While the design of the classroom clusters are identical, each grade uses them differently. Five modes of teaching are currently in use: team teaching for the 7th and 8th grades; mini-team teaching in the 5th grade; self-contained instruction with some interface for special needs; multi-age grouping in 7th and 8th grade math classes; and looping in one of the 5th grade classes. Science classrooms are located adjacent to each other allowing them to work as a single department if needed. Also, for students who learn at a faster pace, the choice of working in small groups is offered. The Central Tree POE finds that the cluster design affords the school the opportunity to define areas by grade level, to extend classroom space into other areas, provide spaces that can be easily supervised, and provide storage and lockers in several areas.

The POE also revealed that classrooms should have connecting doors and that clusters need restroom facilities—features not included in the original design.
project link

POE Citation Award
Indian Trail Elementary School (K-3), Canal Winchester, Ohio
Steed Hammond Paul Inc

The Indian Trail Elementary School POE was identified by several jurors as both a promising model for post occupancy evaluation and as a comprehensive research tool. Based closely on the principles and methods of the Total Quality Management (TQM) movement, Steed Hammond Paul’s Schoolhouse of Quality has pioneered a continuous improvement process for the practice of educational design. A highly structured process enabled Steed Hammond Paul to conduct a targeted post-occupancy evaluation based on clearly defined design objectives going back to the initial stages of the project. The firm’s six principles used in its evaluation process: customer driven, team led, visual documentation, customer confirmation, design implementation, and customer feedback.

The evaluation revealed the versatility of the multipurpose rooms located between classrooms. Small rooms off of the main corridors are used for tutoring, parent-teacher and student-teacher conferences, and planning, while the narrow shared room behind it—and connected directly to the classrooms—are mini computer labs.

The Indian Trail POE is a rare example of an evaluation process linked directly to the design process. project link

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July 16th, 2006

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