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During my time as a job captain working on academic design projects with DOWA-IBI Group Architects, and my previous experience as the Program Manager for Project H Design, a nonprofit organization geared toward youth empowerment and community engagement through a design-build curriculum, I have had numerous opportunities to speak with school districts, educators, and students about the broad spectrum of environments needed to support the modern learner. By attending the CAE Fall Conference, I hope to learn more about how other architecture firms and school districts across the country have risen to the challenge from our students to integrate a variety of...
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As a Senior Associate at Arrowstreet, I have spent the last 15 years working with clients on K12 Education and Healthcare projects enhancing clients’ missions, services, and environments. My projects have been recognized in local and national publications, including Architecture Boston magazine’s Case study: Mattapan - How good design can boost a community’s physical and civic health . I have worked to become a leader within the sustainable architecture field, within my firm and throughout the industry, and have had the opportunity to speak on the topic regionally and nationally. Many of these presentations have explored user engagement...
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In what has become the most popular TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson asks “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” “My contention,” he says, “is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.” All children are born artists, Robinson notes, but we get educated out of creativity as we grow up. Risk taking is important to creativity. Creative risk-takers can’t be overly concerned with being “wrong.” But contemporary education place too much focus on being “right." Robinson says practically all educational systems, whether in the United States, England,...
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“Schools began,” according to the architect Louis Kahn, “with a man under a tree who did not know he was a teacher, sharing his realization with a few others who did not know they were students.” Kahn’s return to essentials provided a powerful stimulus for his architecture. Kahn’s return to the primordial clarifies the problem, strips it of peripheral associations. Kahn reverted to a primordial essence before leaping forward. This enabled him to bring new life to Modernist abstraction. I was reminded of this when reading David Thornburg’s recent book, From the Campfire to the Holodeck: Creating Engaging and Powerful...
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The Spring 2016 CAE Conference in Berlin was interspersed with a broad variety of educational spaces - from K-12 schools to Universities, libraries to a research academy of the Jewish Museum, historical buildings to Germany's most sustainable building. As I reflect back on the conference - talks by inspirational professionals in the fields of architecture and education, and tours of schools new and old - the projects which had the most impact on me, were those that were completely unexpected. Growing up in Germany, I experienced a more strict and regimented environment in the classroom, with most of the freedom and imagination coming from the playground...
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One week has passed since returning from the CAE Berlin Conference. In Portland, Maine this week a group of well-organized parents from Protect our Neighborhood Schools organized proponents of the project packing a Joint School Board Facilities and Finance Committee Meeting. The aim was to put pressure our School Board and City Council to send a $70 million bond to Portland taxpayers to renovate four of the City's crumbling elementary schools. In the end, the committees voted to recommend the project to the full board. A small step towards finally renovating these buildings. It's been a long process for our community. The report which recommended renovating...
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What is your most influential take away from the school system you grew up in? We all have experiences that have shaped us, both positive and negative. How does that affect how we design schools today? The appreciation of unfamiliar languages and cultures was ingrained in the educational system I grew up in. We were encouraged to be imaginative in play, curious about nature and exploration, and to be tolerant of those with different customs. My upcoming journey to the CAE Conference in Berlin will be both a homecoming to Germany and a new experience, 16 years later, in the differences and similarities between German and American school design, theory and practice....
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During the 2016 AIA CAE Conference in Berlin and in my post-conference blog entries I will be focusing on participatory design methodology and applications in the various projects and lectures. Stay tuned for insights from the conference – both in formal presentations and informal discussions amongst participants. A highlight of the conference will be visiting the Erika-Mann Grundschule, a project developed using participatory design practices, in conjunction with Susanne Hofmann’s architecture students at Berlin Technical University’s Institute for Architecture. The Erika-Mann Grundschule School conceived interactively by elementary students, and...
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Education is at the heart of what I do. 100% of Architecture for Education's work are educational spaces; whether we're designing a new K-12 school, a culinary center for at risk youth, an outdoor maker space, or converting an old basement to geology labs - every project has opportunities to influence. As the Design Principal at A4E, I am fairly young in my career, but tasked with leading the design at our office. I believe that seeing various types of educational spaces first hand, can only serve to improve my knowledge, invigorate my ideas, and sustain my passion. Growing up in Germany (although I've never been to Berlin!) provides me with a unique vantage...
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STATEMENT OF INTENT There is no greater responsibility in upholding the American dream than in the design of educational facilities, within the practice of architecture. Tracie’s commitment to this dream goes beyond architecture, but the physical embodiment of that sacred promise embodies her professional career. Even her masters thesis; “Re-Thinking Reiche,” explored renovating a school with an accompanying paper garnering the 2010 AIAS Research Award. Tracie aims to utilize inclusive methods of engaging students and educators in the design process, with her commitment to understanding how schools are utilized leading her to become a certificated...
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The architectural realm crept up on me slowly. My father, a fantastic amateur artist, certainly had a love and appreciation for built forms; he renovated the interior of my childhood home to imitate an aged Tuscan villa, complete with columns, arches, and Roman figures- he’s always favored classical aesthetics. In my youth I was also lucky enough to experience incredible architectural monuments in New York, London, and Paris. My own interest in architecture came to light when, as an undergraduate, I found a passion for photography and realized that architectural elements were the most frequent subjects in my images. Then, in graduate school I discovered that...
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Until now, it may seem bizarre but, the holistic impact of classroom design on the learning of school pupils has been pretty much an unknown quantity. Although many people intuitively feel that classroom design is important for effective learning, there has in fact been very little real evidence. Of course the challenge is far from simple, as there are a myriad of design factors in play within every classroom. So the University of Salford's research team targeted primary (or elementary) school classrooms, where the children are in one space most of their time and for whom there are metrics of their academic progress – an ideal "natural" research design....
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I was not sure whether I was going to this conference or not, as I had participated three Conferences in the row and I wanted to have a little break. But at last minute I decided to go, after all, how often you could get to an AIA Conference in Milan and at the same time experience the EXPO (which last time it was in Milan on 1906). Milan is universally recognised as the economic capital of Italy but it is also a world capital of art, fashion, and design. Historical buildings, villas, monuments, modern-architectural buildings, churches and abbeys all offer a variety of styles and striking details that are well worth getting to know. Key architects with...
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“New Orleans hates change,” shared one of our tour guides, yet this city experienced an incredible series of disasters: a hurricane, failure of infrastructure, and political shortcomings. Over the past decade, the city has emerged from the f erocious social and political issues with a strong vision for the communities that call New Orleans home once again. The last time I had been in New Orleans was in July of 2006. I arrived with a group from my church in an effort to help two families literally dig out of the debris and wreckage that filled their homes following hurricane Katrina. We stripped it down the bare studs so they could either rebuild...
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I want to say thank you to AIA CAE and EdSpaces for hosting an excellent conference in New Orleans! The conference was both a fun and engaging experience for me. My time in New Orleans with other education design professionals provided a space to discuss the overarching challenges facing education in the United States. As I return to my work, resolving much more fine grain design challenges every day, I enjoy thinking of the educational implications of each line I draw. While I would have been interested to dive deeper into the architectural implications of educational revitalization and reform in the focused sessions, the conference provided a broad...
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For as long as I can remember, I have had a strong commitment to improving the communities in which I am a part through both social and architectural means. During my time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, I recognized that learning environments sit at the intersection of the communal and design worlds; and, that they could be that very opportunity for development that I had been seeking. As a result, I wrote my Master’s thesis on learning environments. As an architectural designer who is also interested in pedagogy, urban planning, and history, I have found that the most successful schools have a symbiotic relationship with their communities....
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During my time with Hollis + Miller Architects , I have had the privilege to work side-by-side with several colleges and universities, striving to translate the unique mission and values of each into promising master plans mapping the future of their institutions. In addition to master plans, my studio focuses on student life projects. T he environment s we design create the backdrop for student experiences in a time of heightened development and awareness of self. Every campus culture has unique qualities that set it apart from the rest. I enjoy the prospect of discovering who they are and maximizing the impact each intervention...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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