SCHOOL  DESIGN                       

  SCHOOL  DESIGN      


Crow Island School's Design


Crow Island School


Classroom Design



Images of Crow Island School Used by Permission of Roger Shepard     Perkins & Will

  31 Global School Design Principles
 
Excerpt From:
 
C. Kenneth Tanner  & Jeff Lackney (2006).  Educational Planning: Leadership, Architecture, and  Management. Boston: Pearson - Allyn & Bacon.
Trends in Educational Architecture 

 
The body of knowledge concerning well-designed learning environments is contained in the following 31 global school design principles that appear to have currency in today’s school planning and design. These principles are derived from a variety of sources: from the reflective practice of educators and design professionals to the empirical research of environmental psychologists and educational researchers. Each school design principle takes as an underlying premise that all learning environments should be learner-centered, developmentally- and age-appropriate, safe, comfortable, accessible, flexible, and equitable in addition to being cost effective. These premises run through all principles and should be understood to moderate the appropriateness of each principle in practice. The school design principles are presented here as an extended checklist format that can be used at a guide for a school design visioning process.
 
No single school building process will be able to address and implement all of these principles; some may not apply to the situation, others might not be appropriate because of budgetary limitations. Certainly, if school size research suggests learner groupings of one hundred, building a school this small may not be cost effective – other principles may need to be employed in combination to meet this principle, such as the principle of creatingschools within schools, although we do not recommend this as a solution to poor planning and designs of the past.
 
The chapter is divided into principles for site and building organization, principles for primary educational space, principles for shared school and community facilities, community spaces, principles related to the character of all spaces, and principles related to site design and outdoor learning spaces.
 
Principles for Site & Building Organization
 
Many of the principles for site and building organization have evolved from earlier forms but have taken on new significance in twenty-first century school design. For instance, neighborhood schools, a cornerstone of early nineteenth century schools has taken on new significance with controversies to end ‘forced’ busing in urban school districts as well as create smaller learning communities. There is a new emphasis on formalizing the learning that can take place within the surrounding community of the school. In addition, the size and scale of school buildings is being seriously challenged. Schools are becoming smaller and more intimate in many urban school centers. Finally, buildings are being organized in ways that help transition from smaller home environments that are safe, secure and inviting.
 
1. Plan Schools as Neighborhood-Scaled Community Learning Centers
 
The potential exists to transform the traditional school building into a community-learning center that serves the educational needs of the entire population in the community. Typically, a community-learning center can be created by interlacing residential neighborhoods, various existing community and school organizations, functions and facilities  (Bingler et al, 2003; Decker & Romney, 1994, August; US Dept of Ed., 1999, April; OECD, 1996). The community school most often functions as a cohesive facility or network of closely adjacent facilities (Hodgin, 1998, January; Fanning/Howey Associates, 1995). Locating the community-learning center in neighborhoods will provide a symbolic identity for that community. Facilities that are close to the neighborhoods of the children they serve provide opportunities for children to walk and bike with the added public health benefit of increasing their physical activity, rather than relying on more costly modes of transportation. Community schools often will provide a variety of services, at flexible schedules, accessible by people of different backgrounds. By providing facilities accessible for the entire community, the center will create increased involvement and awareness of the value of education (Warner & Curry, 1997). School facilities that act as true community centers serve the broader societal goals of providing the setting for meaningful civic participation and engagement at the local level.
 
2. Plan for Learning to Take Place Directly in the Community
 
A variety of social and economic factors have created an environment in which many educators recognize that learning happens all the time and in many different places (Duke, 1999, February). The school building is just one place learning takes occurs. While the school building is often perceived as a community center, the idea of embracing the whole community as a learning environment has evolved in a complementary fashion. Educational programs can, and are taking advantage of educational resources in urban, suburban and rural settings alike. Formal educational program partnerships have been established with museums, zoos, libraries, other public institutions, as well as local business workplace settings (Bingler et al, 2003; Fielding, 1999).
 
In addition, increasing costs of public spending for education has encouraged the sharing of school and community facilities that prevent cost duplication of similar facilities such as gymnasiums, auditoriums, performance spaces, and conferencing facilities (Fanning/Howey Associates, 1995; OECD, 1995, 1996). Sharing facilities can also realize long-term maintenance and operating cost savings over the life of the building. Sharing school facilities with a variety of community organizations may foster meaningful inter-organizational partnerships that can strengthen educational opportunities for learners.

3. Create Smaller Schools
 
Barker and Gump (1964) in their classic book “Big School, Small School” demonstrated through their research that small schools (100-150), in comparison with large schools (over 2,000) offer students greater opportunities to participate in extracurricular activities and to exercise leadership roles. In particular, they found that participation in school activities; student satisfaction, number of classes taken, community employment, and participation in social organizations have all been found to be greater in small schools relative to large schools. Garbarino (1980) later found that, small schools, on the order of 500 or less, have lower incidence of crime levels and less serious student misconduct. Subsequent research by others suggests a negative relationship between mathematics and verbal ability tests and elementary school size controlling for socio-economic differences  (Fowler, 1992; Howley, 1994, June).  Additionally, the same research indicates that smaller elementary schools particularly benefit African-American students’ achievement.
 
For educational planners and architects the research on small schools suggests that the size of learner groupings should be roughly between 60-75 students in pre-school, 200-400 students in elementary school, 400-600 in middle school and not more than 600-800 students in secondary school (Raywid, 1996, 1999; Lashway, 1998-99, Winter; Irmsher, 1997). If a community learning center must house more than 75 preschoolers, 400 elementary or middle-school students, or more than 800 high-school students, it is often recommended that the facility be decentralized not just in the size of student body, but alsocurriculum, administration and architecture. Architectural forms of these smaller units may include a village, campus, or multi-faceted building comprised of a series of interconnected schools-within-a-school for a maximum of 400 students. Another strategy for reducing the scale of educational facilities is to distribute and network various school and community functions throughout the neighborhood in both new and existing sites.
 
4. Respect Contextual Compatibility While Providing Design Diversity
 
As real estate development sprawl has expanded, the principle of creating well-defined neighborhoods has been ignored in urban planning. While a strong neighborhood may not directly influence educational performance, the sense of cohesion experienced by community members may help increase parental involvement in neighborhood schools. Research has shown that parental involvement in the school is critical to a learner’s success. By creating a contextually compatible school, people may feel that the school is part of the neighborhood, and in turn, part of them. While maintaining a sense of continuity through contextual design, creating diversely designed environments that have their own identity is equally important in enabling community members to recognize the school as a symbol of their community (Moore & Lackney, 1994).
 
Well-defined neighborhoods blend schools into the pattern and character of the local, surrounding community. In a complementary fashion, one might create differently styled schools with for example, variations on the overall design theme, to respond to the need for community identity and as a response to active parental, children, teachers, administration, and community participation (OECD, 1996).
 
5. Consider Home as a Template for School
 
The transition from the home setting to institutional settings such as the school environment can be stressful, especially for younger children in childcare settings. Experience tells us that building in physical and social home-like characteristics may reduce anxiety on the part of both parent and child, help children feel more comfortable and enable the student to concentrate on learning (Moore et. al., 1979).
 
Use friendly, "home-like" elements and materials in the design of the school at all scales when appropriate and possible (Crumpacker, 1995). Home-like characteristics might include: creating smaller groupings of students often called “families” in the middle school philosophy, designing appropriately-scaled elements, locating restrooms near instructionalareas, providing friendly and welcoming entry sequences, creating residentially sloping roofs, and creating enclosed ‘back-yards’ (Moore et. al., 1979). Use familiar and meaningful elements from the surrounding residential neighborhood as the "template" for the imagery of the new school.
 
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