Architecture to Inspire, Attract, and Promote Wellness

Vol. 11 No. 6


Optimizing your schools space takes a considerable amount of thought, meditation, and planning. Adequate space is valuable—especially for inner-city schools. Well-planned space that incorporates green spaces as well as modern adaptations for 21st Century learning inspires, motivates, and promotes the learning environment not just for your students, but also for your school’s faculty and staff.

The needs of schools have certainly evolved over the century. Most school missions are complex and involve sports and theater programs, with heavy focuses on the arts, sciences, and math, and concentrations on technology. Our research has led us to many diverse and absolutely mind-blowing campuses. Schools are optimizing their space and buildings adding to their existing facilities to amplify their learning experiences.

The trend we’re seeing in new school construction can be summarized in one word: customization. Private schools are as unique as the students attending them. For those fortunate enough to be planning expansions or new construction, there is potential to create an infrastructure that reflects the mission perfectly. Regardless if your school is a price, product, or process institution, having an environment that excels and motivates your students and faculty is highly desirable.

We’re also starting to see another trend in facility planning—the incorporation of open spaces. Open common areas where students can convene before classes and during breaks and lunches is not just healthy for their educational experience, but also helpful in minimizing certain risks such as bullying. These spaces provide both staff and student collaboration, and gives administrators opportunities to control fighting and other disciplinary problems.

Newer construction also allows for energy efficiency. Technology has come a long way, and new construction that incorporates green living ideas such as living roofs, LED lights, rain gardens, composting toilets, etc., can reduce energy costs considerably. Download the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED schools rating system PDF here for more ideas on how to incorporate energy reducing modifications in your facilities.

And, here’s one last thing to consider while planning your schools upgrades: A recent studies have found “active designs” promote healthier lifestyles. New York City, the first city to ban trans fats, adapted Active Design Guidelines in 2006. These guidelines incorporate green construction ideas with the fight against obesity. It starts by asking the question, “How do we get people moving?” Architects are exploring active interior design elements and ideas that promote health while also making employees, employers, students, shoppers, etc., feel valued.

A few ideas from this movement include:

Burn calories, not electricity. Stairs next to elevators encourage more people to make the climb than to wait. A recent study showed that if Americans spent two minutes a day climbing stairs (six to eight flights), enough calories would be burned to prevent the average annual weight gain.

Get up and walk. By moving personal printers into common areas, workers are forced to get up and take a few steps. Those few steps add up!

Outdoor space. Trails and outside working areas encourage workers to be as mobile as the devices they work on.

Shared spaces. Common areas encourage people to collaborate—breaks them out of their silos and gets them talking to one another.

Additional articles of interest—and inspiration
15 Cool High School, College, and University Building Designs
U.S. Green Building Council—The Center for Green Schools
Green Schools, Environmental Education, Awareness, and Action

Additional ISM articles of interest
ISM Monthly Update for Business Officers Vol. 9 No. 7 Improving Your Facility With Living Roofs
Private School News Vol. 9 No. 6 How Your Campus Can Help Recycle e-Waste
ISM Monthly Update for Business Officers Vol. 11 No. 3 Green Corner: Green Your School Challenge

Additional ISM articles of interest for Gold Consortium members
Green Schools as High Performance Learning Facilities
I&P Vol. 31 No. 15 Roofscaping: The Benefits of 'Green Roofing'
I&P Vol. 33 No. 10 Cost Effective, Sustainable Building Solutions

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