The Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) is a large and active group of architects and allied professionals concerned with the quality and design of all types of educational, cultural, and recreational facilities.
You may want to review the "attached" PDF or search for Dr. Dieter Breithecker. Bodies in Motion - Brains in Motion: Better learning in an enriched environment.
Not about bullying per se but a good primer on adolescent physiological behavior in the classroom.
James Spinola, AIA, CSI
250 Valleybrook Drive
Lancaster, PA 17601
I have been tracking the discussion and, as the husband of a middle school counselor, would offer two thoughts she has shared with me time and time again:
1) Architecture cannot solve societal issues – out of her ~600 students, 90% of the issues are caused by 5% of the children. This starts in the home and cannot always be handled within a school setting. Despite her best efforts, those kids will act up and torment others regardless of the building or classroom configuration or the manner in which the teachers, administration, and counselors try to address the behavioral issues.
2) My wife used to teach in an open classroom concept. It didn't work then and I sincerely doubt it would work now. Be cautious about designing open classroom settings especially regarding visibility and acoustics between different student groups.
I honestly hope the issues schools are facing will go away in the future. Good teachers are leaving the profession due to the increase in problems they are facing with today's students AND parents (even if it is the minority causing the issues).
Good luck to everyone!
Brad Thomason, AIA, LEED AP
Director of Integration
Ryan Companies US, Inc.
625 1st Street SE, Suite 175
Cedar Rapids, IA 52401
All:While I agree there are certain social issues that cannot be solved through design but general safety and student success can be effected through great design. I believe most if us have heard the value and positive effects that quality day lighting has provided as an impact on learning. I will focus though on those design principles that can effect specifically bullying since this was mentioned. Double Loaded Corridors are a gauntlet for bullies. A simple bump, push, spit or comment can be waged easily under the direct supervision of staff. I have also noticed corridors less than 12' in width being produced to try and hit some metric of efficiency which further exacerbates this problem. While I agree that the open concepts of the 60's are an absolute failed design that should never be repeated, the open pod concepts work exceptionally well. They provide better student management by simply not dumping the entire student population into circulation when the bell rings. Visual and oral transparency are improved. The pods also provide better acoustic management as well.
I know this is one topic but there are several publications supported by solid research that demonstrates that by applying exceptional design we can make a difference on what happens within a school. Color, texture, nature space all have impacts on the human psych and our contributions as architects have a significant impact on people.
Over the past decade and more, a growing list of fields have been studying environmental influences. Education is one, studying the impacts of school design and environmental quality on student performance. Appreciation for the inseparability of environmental factors from cognitive ability, even the development of personal identity, are emerging. I recommend Sarah Williams Goldhagen's terrific new book Welcome To Your World as introduction to some of this research. Rather than finding that architecture is unable to solve social problems, there is increasing evidence that social problems cannot be solved without also addressing the environmental influences that help shape them.
Carl Elefante FAIA
Quinn Evans Architects