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Supported by a vibrant community of architects as designers and influencers, architecture is one essential and structural pier to our civilization.  There are other essential piers that make up our built design, construction, and operation environment most notably those who pay for and occupy each of our creations.  Their needs are what we respond to so creatively every day with our work but we also possess the often untapped power to influence their aspirations and business cases through public advocacy, supported research, organized education efforts, and in helping to inform their vision of what can be.  A great many of us architects may be missing the chance to help change policies that have been widely reported to be counterproductive such as discounting energy performance, the burden of maintenance and repairs, and the durability of our completed work.  While many in society look for ways to reduce the generation of climate warming gases like CO2 when building and operating buildings, we would do well to help stakeholders see that a built environment that lasts far longer than the 35, 50, or even 100 years predicted in recent decades would be a great and bankable achievement. 

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So you're anxious to be your own boss ...

Here's a short story for one to consider, on the subject of a sole proprietorship:

My first years in the field of architecture allowed me the experience of working as a general laborer, wheel barrowing concrete, mixing mortar and the like. One summer, I became an electrician’s assistant, one year a carpenter, and another year as a general contractor for the design, permitting and building of pre-kindergarten facility.

The career began very uplifting, full of hard work. I had entered into the profession of architecture thinking that on the warm days this architect would be out in the field working the designs that had been drawn on the boards on the cold days, in the office, before computer aided design and drafting (CADD).

Although that was a great, correct choice, the lifestyle did not last as long as I had hoped. Within a few years the wife and I had the first Sunshine after the Rain child, then another Beloved One child, and then an economic downturn, that led to diminishing the regional economy. Thus came the reason why relocation to a part of the country where there were many of architectural projects redirected to our young family’s community.

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A home is not just a place where you keep the things you own and sleep at. It is an extension of your life. It is where you spend your most precious moments, entertain your friends, invite your guests… it is the place where your children grow up. 
 
What your home looks like is therefore a reflection of your personality and expression of your taste. However, often enough we end up staying in homes designed by and built for other people. 
 
So how do you ensure that your home looks like it belongs to you and not any stranger? How do you make it speak with your voice, express your individuality?
 
With a facade of course!
 

Give your home a makeover with a brand new facade design


 
Sometimes you cannot help the house you live in. But you can personalize it with an exterior facade. Simply put, it will make your home look far more beautiful, and the perfect place you would like to come back to. It can also tell the world about its owner. What you are like and what your real tastes are. And, if these were not reasons enough – getting a brand new facade can also greatly increase the value of your house in the property market.
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Camp CanoeingInstructor

The CAE conference in Detroit was a joy to attend.  From the very first evening as I stepped into the lobby of the Guardian Building with its bright Pewabic tile I could tell we were in for a treat. Detroit’s rich history and current reinvention provided a dynamic context to experience and discuss the possibilities and realities of architecture for education.

Over the four days we toured historical buildings and campuses such as Yamasaki Buildings at Wayne State University and the Cranbrook Educational Community, new buildings such as the Detroit School of Arts and Earhart Elementary-Middle School as well as renovated and repurposed buildings such as the Integrative Biosciences Center and the Argonaut Building. This architectural mix highlighted the wealth and prosperity of historical Detroit and the current resurgence that is alive and reverberating throughout the city.

Being with an incredible number of accomplished architects and scholars during these four days was definitely the highlight of my experience. Inevitably a conversation during a tour or before a lecture would add a new perspective or reveal current projects that attendees were working on in their communities. One conversation in particular highlighted how touring innovative schools at CAE conferences affects change across North America.

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The annual CAE Conference was held in Detroit this year, and like any conference, the host city plays an important role in the overall feel of the conference.  This was my first experience in Detroit, and I was encouraged by the aura of optimism engulfing the city.  Nationally, everyone knows of the recessions blow to Detroit- the city that was perhaps more emblematic of that recession than any other.  The housing crisis, the auto-industry collapse, the blow to manufacturing. . . Detroit had it all, along with a corrupt mayor, resulting in bankruptcy.

But that is not the Detroit of today.

Today, Detroit is surging- downtown is alive, manufacturing has returned, the grit of the City has become a banner to be waved on the road to resurgence.  Detroit is emblematic of a national trend, and seems as likely as any City to be able to become a platform for what the post-recession America wants to be.  Nationally, there is a sense of returning to American ideals that were forgotten in the past 60 years.  A return to housing that is longer-lasting, better-sized, more efficient, less about keeping up with the Jones' and more about living in an appropriate matter suited to a social responsibility; an idea of consumerism that is not simply about having more and more stuff, but about choice to purchase quality, manufactured goods; a return to locally farmed, raised, manufactured, grown, constructed, built, developed fill-in-the-blank that allows us to have a sense of origin in the food we consume and the goods we purchase.  This is the new America, and Detroit seems poised to reclaim its position at the epicenter of this new ideal.
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What does it mean to design schools for change? I’m thinking about this while the contrails of the planes leaving Detroit from the recent AIA CAE conference are still fresh in the sky. The conference’s own topic was Rejuvenation & Reinvention, a topic it portrayed expansively.

This idea of change is often connected to the idea of crisis. That is to say, circumstances do not change drastically until they absolutely must. This connection is poignant in Detroit since so much of the facility design we witnessed was an overlay on existing communities that had experienced significant flux during the past decade. Likewise the will to begin many of the educational programs we heard about arose from the conviction that Detroit needed to try new models.

I’d like to propose a framework for thinking about designing schools for change. This framework is constructed in three scales. The first, smallest scale is called “Flexibility”. This encompasses those daily demands put on a facility to be reconfigurable to meet learning needs. Architects have become adept at designing for flexibility in educational spaces, and the strategies we’ve discovered to support flexibility are numerous. We divide spaces with operable walls and visually connect spaces with ample interior glazing. Furniture on wheels can gather around mark-able wall surfaces and reconfigurable storage can adapt to most teachers’ demands. Beyond “Flexibility”, and larger than it, there is “Adaptability”. I’d suggest that designing for “Adaptability” mean designing schools in such a way that the underlying programming of a space can change. It is designing to support a conversion of use in space. To take this from the abstract to the concrete, many of the schools we visited in Detroit had poor utility of their libraries even though this program typically occupied one of the best locations experientially in the facility. Eventually some other program will displace these libraries. Many architects are tackling the challenge of “Adaptability” by designing new facilities that plan for future programs to occupy the space vacated by programs whose use is in decline such as libraries and computer labs. At the most expansive scale of change, there is “Longevity”. This scale is about allowing for transformation. How does one design schools to support future teaching methods? Schools generally are designed in close partnership with educators to support the method of teaching the educators think is the most effective. But given that new schools do not resemble old schools, and given that current methods of instruction are more effective than previous methods of instruction, it seems like a failure of imagination to think that there aren’t even better methods of teaching waiting to be discovered. How should one design schools to tolerate a change in user group, for example, use by different age/grade cohorts? I suspect that most architects’ experience with “Longevity” as s scale of change comes from planning for additions to be built onto their existing work at some point in the future.

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Having never been to an AIA Knowledge Community conference, I didn't know exactly what to expect when I initially decided to attend last week's CAE Conference in Detroit. I'd been to Convention and Grassroots, and other component-level programming, but I'd never had an opportunity before to engage with a specialized field like architecture for education.

Looking back, I was surprised not only by the quality of the programming and overall planning and coordination of the event, but the lens through which it allowed me to really understand the impact that architecture can have beyond our own profession. Being involved as I have been with the AIA, AIAS, and other collaterals, this idea was something I've heard, and preached, many times before, but I'd never experienced first-hand the perspective of those outside our own ranks on what it is we do and the role it can play in the lives of our clients and the end users of our products.

Detroit served as a stunning example of the incredible opportunity for architecture to make a difference, and the full range of ways that impact can manifest. In visiting a broad range of educational facilities and communities, we experienced spaces and engaged in dialogues with groups ranging from elementary schools, to arts-focused high schools, to private institutions and a world-class research university. In each instance we heard from teachers, administrators, and most importantly, students, about the way that the spaces they inhabited influenced the learning that took place there. From historical campuses like Cranbrook, to state-of-the-art facilities like the Detroit School for the Arts, each unique environment held a dynamic and profound character, all made possible by the architects who crafted their vision and those of their clients into a real, tangible, and vibrant space.
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Knowledge Communities (cross tag) : Committee on Architecture for Education

I think most architects want to improve humanity. This impulse seems even stronger amongst school designers. After 4 days in contemplating, discussing, and visiting schools in Detroit it is clear there are a lot of opportunities available. On the other hand it is also clear that at the confluence of hope and hard work there is recovery.

It may not be surprising that with a title like Rejuvenation & Reinvention my take away from the Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) Spring Conference would be more sociopolitical than architectural.

I suspect most of what you have heard about Detroit is superficially accurate. The signs of decline are conspicuous, but the hope is left unspoken. Educators, developers, students, business owners, and even my taxi driver all believe that with continued hard work the city can be made whole again.

The most impactful moment of the conference for me was the time a small group of us spent with the principal at the James and Grace Lee Boggs School, Julia Putnam. We were sitting in the hoop house outside her school. The school is surrounded by run down frequently boarded up houses and empty lots. The building wasn’t designed to be a school. It is old and cramped. Many of the students receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner at school. Yet Julia is making a difference with what she has and telling us, “It’s time to be solutionary not visionary. We need to push beyond what is not just what can be.”

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The Committee on Architecture for Education’s Spring Conference in Detroit was a highly diverse experience in more ways than one. Each day was packed with tours of distinctive sites and built environments, each learning facility we visited possessed a unique approach to education, each presentation of the conference conveyed varying topics with surprising relationships to the broader theme of rejuvenation, revitalization, and education, and the overall experience of the storied “Motor City” was a lesson in cultural diversity and the diversity of human experience.

 

Site tours began on Day 2, and not all sites were necessarily formal schools, however all were places of learning. Visits included the Detroit School of Arts, Wayne State University’s Yamasaki architecture, sundry local charter and public schools (Focus: Hope, Boggs K-8, Foreign Language Immersion and Cultural Studies School, University Prep Science and Math High School, and Earhart Elementary-Middle School), Wayne State’s new Integrative Biosciences Center, and the Department of Natural Resources’ Outdoor Adventure Center in the Globe building. Each site had a unique take on the goals of education, reinforcing my realization that children are not a homogenous group of learners but have strengths and weaknesses that should be leveraged by programs tailored to their abilities. 

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All, 

The International Code Council (ICC) Committee Action Hearings are coming up April 19-28 in Memphis. Members and national staff will represent the AIA at the 2018 Group A code cycle updating codes that likely affect your practice every day (the IBC, IEBC, IRC, and more). 

AIA submitted more than 50 code change proposals, many informed by input from members like you across the country. We welcome and appreciate your continued input. Please check out the links below for the complete monograph of code changes and other information (To find code change proposals by subject area or specific code section, refer to the cross index of proposed changes starting on page xxxv in the preamble). 
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It may seem obvious, but it's worth stating plainly that the spaces we work in have a profound effect on the work we do. There has been an ongoing discussion in the profession--and one which is coming back to the fore--about the positive and negative attributes of firm culture in the U.S.  While this can be a vague area of discussion, and one populated by a vast array of different approaches in individual practices, I seek only to highlight the ways in which our physical spaces impact that culture, and how deeply rooted in our educational environments those attitudes can be.

Love it or hate it, there are many habits and attitudes that are formed in the crucible of the academic studio, and any conversation relating to making substantive and broad-reaching changes in firm culture must begin with a discussion of studio culture. ArchDaily recently posted a fascinating article revisiting the responses and comments to a previous piece addressing the "All-Nighter Culture" in architecture schools. The article does a remarkable job of presenting arguments both in favor of and opposed to this sentiment, but of particular note is the idea that seemed to be supported by both sides. Everyone seemed to agree that, for better or worse, physically locking students out of the studio space would only result in them pulling the same late-night hours at home. 
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Knowledge Communities (cross tag) : Committee on Architecture for Education

Recent decades in our profession have been defined by the dichotomy of eye grabbing design and sustainability chess games.  The results can be stylistically unforgettable or achieve high marks in a sustainability program or some fusion of both but what is clear is the mark is being missed by miles.  The road we have been on runs right in to a stone cliff of inconvenient data that describes the carbon footprint of our built environment expanding not shrinking, that confirms that unsustainable sprawl has restarted in countless places, and that reports that countless projects are not performing as expected and in many cases are over budget, use more energy and water than planned, and require major repairs and recertification efforts on an almost continual basis.  What is still missing from almost every project are architects and clients who expect every building to be very low energy use, resilient, and straightforward to operate.  As investors wonder day after day where they can find better returns in the markets, the ubiquitous endless profit drain-offs from costly buildings and their operations receives nowhere near the attention it deserves.

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What would you do if you found yourself with an abandoned airport on 1000 acres of formerly beautiful land surrounded on three sides by a fjord---AND it's on the outskirts of a city which also happens to have a housing shortage? 

If you're the city of Oslo, Norway, you might determine to sell off parcels of the perimeter land for housing and mixed-use development and return the remaining runways, airport facilities and land to its former beauty with some humor and water fun for extra measure. We'll visit Nansen Park, designed by Norwegian landscape architecture firm Bjørbekk & Lindheim, as part of the Oslo segment of the "Locally Grown" Conference in Norway this June.

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Activities : Conferences, Walking Tours  Knowledge Communities (cross tag) : Regional and Urban Design Committee

As a representative of the national organization for students of architecture and design, I feel that my participation in this conference could be beneficial in multiple ways, both to the AIA and the AIAS. First, I can speak on behalf of a group engaged directly in the post-occupancy use of educational facilities, and lend that perspective in the various pieces of programming. Additionally, my role within the AIAS entails sharing with our membership the possibilities of a life in Architecture, and the possible avenues they may pursue. The information and experiences I gather at this conference would inform content to be distributed to a base of young designers who may be interested in pursuing educational facilities as a career specialization. This role also extends, in the realm of our advocacy efforts, to promoting diversity in practice that more closely mirrors that currently seen in education. Finally, as a native of Detroit and current resident of Midtown, I can lend first-hand experience to some of the tours and lectures in that area, and share an objective viewpoint on the decisions made in those projects.
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Knowledge Communities (cross tag) : Committee on Architecture for Education

Edge cases engage architects because they provide opportunities to experiment, and they act as provocation to other work.  Although I am no expert at the planning of educational facilities, I have participated in the design of enough schools to notice patterns emerge. The educational philosophies, area models, and design committees each have features that are unique, but they rhyme with each other in fundamental ways. This is why an edge case is so fascinating. Two years ago I was involved in the design of one such edge case, a one classroom STEM space, or a STEM cell. The Sustainability, Engineering, and Design (SED) Lab featured dense programming, immersive student involvement, and an unexpected post-occupancy life that have all informed my career since.

STEM Cell: One Space, Many Purposes

STEM facility planning has been codified to include four different types of space: the classroom, the laboratory, the presentation space, and the shop. We see these components whether it’s an entire school designed to support a STEM curriculum or only a suite of rooms dedicated to STEM classes. In these circumstances there is a one to one relationship between a room and a function.

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Camp CanoeingInstructor

In the school district in which I live it is becoming more and more expensive to secure housing, which is contributing to decreasing numbers of students enrolling in public schools. Public school buildings are underutilized – in fact in the last year 130 schools in the Toronto District School Board were found to be operating at a capacity of 65% or less. Many of these schools are in parts of the city with socio-economic challenges. However, because of the sharp increase of property values the school board could easily be enticed close these schools and sell the land they own to make up for budget shortfalls.  In fact they’re under pressure from the provincial government to balance the books or lose control of their budget entirely.  However a “sell-off” feels short sighted as some demographic projections foresee the need for these school spaces in as little as ten years.

What opportunities arise when underused public school buildings exist in neighborhoods that desperately need lively creative public space?

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As completion of the last new-build school project I designed approaches, I am reminded of the process of decision-making that resulted in the largest elementary school in the state of Kansas.

“You’re building an elementary school for 1,200 students?!” 

“Yes, yes we are, and for good reason.”

For the reason of sustainability.  The term sustainability is tainted in today’s culture of eco-chicness. Yes, we designed Tonganoxie Elementary School to LEED Silver standards (without certification) and, yes, it has all of the trappings of sustainability from a “do it because it’s good design” standpoint.  But, that’s not what this post is about.  It’s about the District thinking about their own sustainability.  How does a rural district, poised for growth within an expanding suburban ring spend its resources in a way that creates a maintainable future?

A poorly-planned, low-quality middle school had been built just six years prior to our project.  A project that was over-promised and under-delivered was an unfortunate lesson that the community of Tonganoxie had taken to heart.  Sins of the past are difficult to overcome.  New board leadership, a new superintendent, and a new design and construction team sought to accomplish a sustainable future for a deserving community.  The decision was anything but clear- an existing elementary school had been part of the community for 60+ years, but it was land-locked, already over expanded with classrooms and trailers built beyond the core capacity, and over-populated by at least 100 students.  Continuing to Band-Aid this building was thought to be the most favored choice, if nothing else, but for sentimental value.  Instead, by proposing change of use to a mixed-use community space, operated by the City, the School District could focus on a new school to accommodate all of their elementary students and provide relief to a crowded middle school by re-adjusting grades.  The reality of this meant Kindergarten through 5

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At risk for being outpaced by foreign educational systems, today's American schools face increasing pressure to produce high-achieving students who are prepared for college and who contribute to an ideal modern workforce. This pressure has prompted initiatives such as Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Language Arts and Mathematics as well as Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize the cultivation of skills tied to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. In addition to these curriculum-focused strategies, schools have also increased their efforts in fostering more productive learning environments, which includes inculcating prosocial attitudes and behaviors in their students. In fact, Elias (2014) argues that providing students with social-emotional skills, including relationship skills and social awareness, will facilitate common core implementation and higher achievement. The role of schools in shaping the social and moral fiber of America’s rising generation is not necessarily a new concept, however, as the following excerpt from a 19th century educator illustrates: 

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Camp CanoeingInstructor

I am a licensed teacher with a combined graduate degree in architecture and education, which places me in a unique position when it comes to school design. As a teacher, I have lived experience teaching and learning in a variety of school buildings and educational spaces. My graduate work has allowed me to develop an architectural lens, and given me insight into that lived experience. As a consultant I’ve been excited to develop language that bridges between the worlds of education and design.

I am passionate about the relationship between learners and the design of school spaces, especially with respect to the interactions between nature, architecture and the learners. My research on school design revealed that elements that foster a connection to the natural world, such as indoor/outdoor interfaces have a huge impact on students. Students’ spoke in detail about how these interfaces increased their sense of imagination, productivity, concentration, sense of belonging, emotional, intellectual and even spiritual well being. My research suggested that school buildings really can be a ‘third teacher’ and that nature in the built environment is extremely beneficial to students.

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