Building the Perfect School

Computer rooms, identical classrooms, and long hallways flanked by rows of metal lockers are out. Forget about blackboards, institutional cafeterias, and teacher break rooms, too. Even students’ and teachers’ desks are endangered.

Welcome to school design for the 21st century.

As design catches up to trends in teaching and learning and research on the impact of the school environment, architects and planners are redefining what facilities look like and how space can be used.

Long brick buildings with rows of identical classrooms are now considered obsolete, giving way to flexible structures with a variety of spaces that can be adapted to meet teachers’ and students’ changing needs.

“School designs and spaces are starting to reflect our understanding of how all of us learn,” says Judy Hoskins, an architect with the Cuningham Group’s Minneapolis office. “We all learn differently; consequently, there needs to be a variety of learning spaces to support the different styles of learning.”

While the perfect school -- if it even exists -- looks very different to each community, recent research shows some design elements can have a sizable impact on academic achievement and should be considered when building any new facility. ASBJ surveyed architects and planners across the country to look at which elements will have the most impact on future generations.

 Would you like to continue reading?
Subscribers please click here to continue reading. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to purchase this article or to obtain a subscription to ASBJ.