Chris Blessen - 2017 CAE Emerging Professional Scholarship Recipient


In 2007, I started working at Tappe. Over the course of the last 10 years, I have been learning about the design of educational facilities which includes everything from early childhood centers through K-12 schools to libraries which support life-long learning. I am now at a stage where I am a principal at Tappe and diving into the next generation of our firm. I am working to build a knowledge network that can advance not only our practice in the design of educational facilities but also allow us to be meaningful contributors to the discussion as these facilities and their needs evolve. I am hopeful that by attending this conference and beginning the process of developing relationships in the field, I and our firm can widen our perspective and offer thoughts and ideas to others along the way. It will also be helpful to see examples of successful projects from an entirely different region because there may be solutions in those projects that are applicable to our work and expandable to the industry as a whole.


Over the last 10 years I have been focused on design for educational facilities. I have now worked on a number of successful K-12 projects as well as studies for potential future projects. In addition, I have recently completed a few library projects which help round out the passion around life-long learning environments. Over these years I have begun to develop an understanding of the K-12 marketplace and how we got to where we are today in terms of planning for these facilities. In addition, I have begun to develop an appreciation for the public forum conversation and the various political pressures around allocating funds for this vital infrastructure. I continually lead these public forums for our own projects that discuss the “value” of investing in educational facilities and I work to connect the physical value of money to the psychological value of education. The emphasis is on the building in a supporting role to 21st century learning, but it must be future ready for the uncertain advances in our education system that are ahead. I enjoy the discussion around different educational models and I am a practicing professional putting the theories and ideals to test on a daily basis.