Shifting the Paradigm: Reimagining School Design for the Future


Bill Gould
Artik Art & Architecture

Kevin Kemner
Associate AIA
TSK Architects

Mark Davenport
SPS+ Architects

Vanessa Williams


2 Learning Units (LU)

How applies to HSW:

While dramatic changes are happening in school architecture, many of us were struck by the keynote remarks of futurist David Houle at the A4LE International Conference in Atlanta last spring. Looking forward, arguing for dramatic holistic transformation in education — and hence also in school design, he told us that most of “current reform efforts are reactionary and based on playing catch-up,” that the moveable walls and furniture, the emphasis on STEAM, and even the thrill of teaching kids to code, is quickly becoming obsolete. With a connected world, VR, AI, and individually-directed learning, we can see that change is already happening. Houle writes,”A transformation of the magnitude suggested here will not come easily or without pain, but it will likely come faster than any of us imagine,” and, therefore, we must think about school design in a completely different way. But how?   Like teachers who have been trained in an old paradigm, seasoned school planners and architects may also be limited by old assumptions – and as we know from history, it is hard to rethink old ideas. Wanting to rejuvenate and reimagine our task, we are asking the youngest designers at 3 firms (Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects, SPS+ Architecture, and Artik Art and Architecture) to explore, in a charrette format, possible ways that learning spaces might evolve over the next 20 years. The design teams at each firm will work within a limited but defined program that delineates schedule, resources, process and presentation format. Each team will share the work with their firms for discussion, followed by a specified number of hours for independent revision (not to be constricted by principal designers).   At the beginning of the conference session, the work of the three teams will be presented; the rest of the time will be spent in conversation. In order to stimulate the discussion with the A4LE attendees, we will choose a moderator who can get the most out of their experience, expertise, and various perspectives. The larger goal is to inspire new ideas and ways of thinking.

Learning Objectives:
  • To consider different ways to imagine education taking place in a post-classroom environment ;
  • To explore the trends that will affect the evolution of the educational environment
  • To ask new questions about the transformation of future school design and where its heading;
  • To stimulate discussion between people from different professions, geographical locations, and perspectives
Primary Competency:

Educational Visioning:  Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educational leadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders Ð translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner.

Primary Domain:

Learning: Content of this session/workshop will focus on how we learn and/or how the physical environment responds specifically to various methods of instruction, pedagogies, learning styles, or learning trends.

Secondary Domain:

Context: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the circumstances that form the setting for the design and construction of specific learning environments and characteristics that distinguishes the project from other applications.