Thinking Inside the Box – The Case for Transformation


Regan Shields Ives
Finegold Alexander Architects

David Stephen
President | M.Ed.
Architect New Vista Design

Traci Walker-Griffith
Principal | M.Ed.,
Eliot K-8 innovation School / Boston Public Schools

Erica Jackson


1 Learning Units (LU)

How applies to HSW:

21st Century education has gone global, but no amount of technology can replace the school building as the heart of the community. However, many districts, especially in urban areas, are faced with antiquated school buildings in desperate need of renovation. These same districts are often challenged by increased enrollments but are left with limited options for expansion, further putting pressure on their existing school facilities. In suburban settings, a neighborhood school building may be critically important to the community fabric, so a renovation may be more advantageous than a new facility. Alternatively, a district might identify an educational void in their current community and determine that a new school must be created.   By working within the confines of existing buildings and sites, three distinctly different school districts at opposite ends of the country from Boston, MA to Los Angeles, CA were able to creatively think inside the box to transform three different building types into 21st century learning environments. Hear from the perspective of an architect, educator, and educational planner.

Learning Objectives:
  • To explore ways to advance curriculum through design: within the building, the larger community, and its place in the global lens of education. ;
  • To gain a better understanding of the strategies used to unite 21st century educational program needs with existing building limitations and opportunities.
  • To understand how to analyze an existing building to determine if it is conducive for educational use, including existing site, building systems, and indoor environmental qualities.;
  • To explore strategies for swing space and phasing during renovations to ensure minimal impact to the educational experience.
Primary Competency:

Educational Visioning:Ê Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educationalleadership, 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:

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.

Secondary Domain:

Process: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the importance of quality processes and practices implemented by the project team when creating learning environments. The who, what, when and how of various disciplines and applications.