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April 7, 2009
by Shana Smith

Event: Architectural Record‘s “Schools of the 21st Century”
Location: Center for Architecture, 03.24.09
Speakers: Pamela Loeffelman, FAIA — Principal, Perkins Eastman; Jan Keane, FAIA, LEED AP — Partner, Mitchell/Giurgola Architects; Steven Goldberg, FAIA — Partner, Mitchell/Giurgola Architects; James LaPosta, AIA — Partner & Chief Architectural Officer, JCJ Architecture; Gilbert Sanchez, AIA — Principal, Studio B Architects
Introduction: Charles Linn, FAIA — Senior Editor, Architectural Record
Organizers: AIANY Committee on Architecture for Education

Regional Center for the Arts by JCJ Architecture (left); Concordia International School Shanghai by Perkins Eastman (right).

Robert Benson Photography (left); Tim Griffith (right)

For the third year in a row, Architectural Record published its supplemental issue “Schools of the 21st Century,” focusing on school design trends and featuring schools that embody best practice design principles. The four case studies discussed included a middle school overlooking a picturesque mountain range, an American elementary and middle school in Germany embracing sustainable design, a performing arts high school in suburban Connecticut, and an international school in rapidly-expanding Shanghai. In his introduction, Charles Linn, FAIA, senior editor at Architectural Record, discussed how these forward-thinking schools provide relevant lessons in a time when school enrollment is climbing while spending is dropping.

While different in setting and design, the schools all promote sustainability and emphasize the importance of connectivity between indoor and outdoor spaces. At Concordia International School Shanghai, designed by Perkins Eastman, the city views from the rooftop studio are intended to inspire students, while the abundance of glass gives the impression of being outdoors throughout. Windows at Aspen Middle School, a LEED Gold-certified school with an Outdoor Education Program designed by Studio B Architects, look out to Buttermilk Mountain. A balcony off the cafeteria allows students to congregate outdoors to enjoy the views, as well. Large windows at the Regional Center for the Arts by JCJ Architecture in Trumbull, CT, offer students a sense of their surroundings while flooding the interior with natural daylight and reducing energy usage. The building was also sited to preserve much of the surrounding green space and woodlands. Operable clerestory windows at Mitchell/Giurgola Architects’ Elementary and Middle School in Bavaria provide natural ventilation and daylight, while terraces support informal outdoor gathering spaces.

Through environmentally responsible design, multi-functioning spaces, design that turns site constraints into assets, and the importance of outdoor connectivity, these buildings draw students into wanting to be at school. According to Pamela Loeffleman, FAIA, principal at Perkings Eastman, they are student-centric and accommodate students’ needs daily; they “interact with the students” leading to better educational environments.

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