NEW YORK STATE
EDUCATION JUNE ’21
In April 2021, AIA New York State hosted “Re-Imaging School Design: Adaptation and Transformation of Healthy Learning Environments.” This four-part series addressed key areas of adapting and transforming school design by examining best practices and exploring ways to leverage existing or new buildings to create healthy learning environments. Speakers included architects, engineers, school administrators, facilities directors, academia, law enforcement and policymakers. This issue continues the dialogue about school design and how architects and design professionals have provided new ideas and approaches in response to the modern day needs of our learning environments.
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Contents President’s Letter
Executive Vice President’s Letter
Blueprint for Learning – Pittsburgh, PA
Leadership by Design 10
Architecture – Making ‘Joy in Learning’ Tangible through Engagement, Nature and Versatility 14
An Architect and Former Educator’s Perspective on the Importance of School Design 20
Reimagining Buffalo’s Historic Schools Designing Ambiguity
AIANYS Portfolio Updates
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My friends, colleagues and fellow architects; Transformation is underway! Let’s reimagine our future together. Over the past 15 months, we’ve witnessed the shutdown of our communities and experienced more changes than I can count. Now we are at a moment of change, positive change. The transformation of our work environments, our communities and how we shape our future is underway—who better to lead that change than you! Through each shock and stress that impacted our systems and throughout the months of challenges we’ve collectively endured, we have not wavered. We have remained engaged and committed knowing the positive transformation to come. Today, the American Institute of Architects New York State is leading that positive transformation, creating a blueprint for better. Better communities with equity and opportunity. Better solutions about how we shape the built environment. We continue to lead the efforts on transformation through programs and workshops such as our recent four part series, “Re-Imaging School Design: Adaptation and Transformation of Healthy Learning Environments.” We are preparing professionals to respond after disasters through our SAP-CEDAR training. Our AIA Unified Crisis Taskforce has secured federal funding to assist in transforming and reopening restaurants through Design Corps. We have created a “back to the future workplace” webinar series and our work with lawmakers has brought greater focus and recognition to the value of architects— our skills, our expertise and our visionary acumen. As New York State reopens, the rest of the country and the world will soon follow suit. And, as we heal and move forward, we should reflect on those who made the ultimate sacrifice and work towards a brighter future in their honor. As your State Component representing our members and the profession of architecture, we are leading the conversations and providing a vision for further societal transformations that will rise from the COVID-19 crisis. It is you, our members, that can positively impact the future of our state and of our communities. We are dedicated to this cause to advocate, train our members and play a key roll in how government effectively invests in New York State. Together we can create a better future for all New Yorkers. Sincerely,
Illya Azaroff, FAIA 2021 President | AIA New York State
LETTER PAGE 4 | JUNE 2021
The decision to learn can come in different ways with different outcomes. As we heard from many experts during the recently held conference on school design, school-age children need the right environment both physically and emotionally to absorb what is being taught. As we progressed through our formal education, sometimes the decision to learn was made for us. In the book, The Decision to Learn, published by Center for Association Leadership, the motivation factors to learn are different from when we were in school with pre-determined curriculums. Adults determine their learning based on what skills they need for work and personal growth, or to renew their license. From an organizational perspective, education is rated as one of the major reasons individuals decide to join organizations, just below access to up-to-date information. Surprisingly, in a study conducted by the Siena College Research Institute for AIA New York State, members no longer make their learning decisions based on whether the program offered HSW credit; it is based on content. This is a far cry from the former data and real world programming that indicated if HSW wasn’t offered, it wasn’t going to appeal to our members. The assumed reason for this change is that HSW can be earned by a multitude of programming now available. Our Small Firm Symposium that carried no HSW was incredibly successful when offered face-to-face and virtually. Since March of 2020, programming at AIANYS has been strictly virtual and the decision for virtual education was easy. New York was in a shut down our members needed help. The decision on how to learn was made for them. Content was developed by listening to our member’s needs—information to protect their firms, their clients and their employees—and they needed it quickly. In order to be responsive under stressful circumstances, programming that typically took several months to plan now took weeks to produce. World renowned experts presented on healthy air, newly emerging legal challenges, changing firm cultures and of course school design that evolved from school safety to addressing environmental standards. As New York State is reopening, our members are again making decisions to learn. Our leadership is reviewing data on how to overcome barriers to learn like travel, family responsibilities, time, job responsibilities and of course the need for networking and social interaction. Our study taught us what the members want to learn; the tough decision will be how to deliver it as they make their decision on how best to learn. Professional education has always been a core part of AIANYS. Providing members resources for growth and success is what the AIA is all about. Don’t hesitate to let us know what you need to make your future decisions to learn and how we can be part of that decision. Let’s make those decisions together, as we always have, in response to our members. Sincerely,
Georgi Ann Bailey, CAE, Hon. AIANYS Executive Vice President | AIA New York State
EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT’S
MARCH 2021 | PAGE 5
BLUEPRINT FOR LEARNING – PITTSBURGH, PA by Sarah W. Dirsa, AIA, LEED AP, NOMA, SEED, Principal, KG+D Architects
Reimagine America’s Schools (RAS), a project of the National Design Alliance, works in partnership with educators, technology experts, and design professionals to create new models for learning environments. The program works to leverage public funds invested in school construction and modernization to support new ways of learning in our educational facilities. In 2020, in response to the pandemic and social and racial upheaval, Reimagine America’s Schools engaged in conversations on how these disruptions might change public schools and how the design of the learning environment must also evolve to support these changes. Prior to this, RAS was a “boots on the ground” organization, hosting design charrettes across the country. When circumstances allow, RAS will continue their in-person work to promote their mission to reimagine what is possible for our educational spaces.
n 2019, Reimagine America’s Schools partnered with Pittsburgh-based Remake Learning to host the Blueprint for Learning grant program. Through this program, sixteen organizations and agencies in the western Pennsylvania region each received a $50,000 grant to redesign a portion of their space in support of Active Learning, Learner-Centered, and Next Generation learning initiatives. The sixteen groups—members of the Blueprint for Learning cohort —were comprised of school districts, after-school organizations, libraries, museums, and other community-based educational programs. Each cohort team had to demonstrate the values of their organization related to learning and how a new
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Human Services Big Idea - The design thinking process started with soliciting the motivation behind the teams desired transformations. Creating the big idea for each space before design solutions were created was a key to achieving successful design concepts. Image courtesy of Reimagine America’s Schools.
space might directly support those values; how students and other project stakeholders might be involved in or influence the design of the space; and who was the motivation behind the desired transformation. Additionally, each grant recipient was required to create a plan to become a hub of professional learning as a resource to other organizations, either in their geographic area or based upon the types of programs and content their organizations facilitated. To assist the cohort members in creating a vision for their space and to provide them with practical design strategies for
Riverview School District - Verneer School Library Left: (Before) A small alcove of the existing library and a storage room behind was the area available for this transformation. Photo courtesy of Riverview School District. Right: (After) Capturing the alcove area was a small design intervention that allowed for adequate space to be created for the MakerSpace without losing any functionality in the library. The graphic on the new window celebrates the reinvented space behind the wall. Photo courtesy of courtesy of VEBH Architects.
implementation, Reimagine America’s Schools ran a three-day Design Institute at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. RAS invited eight national design experts, with experience in leading charrettes and engaging teams in thoughtful discussions, to lead the design thinking process with the cohort members. Pittsburgh area architects were recruited to provide pro bono services to implement the ideas generated during this concept phase and joined the Design Institute as well. What unfolded throughout the three days not only transformed the design idea of each cohort team’s physical space, but also created awareness about the importance of design thinking at the beginning of the process and facilitated new and strengthened relationships between cohort members. On Day One of the Design Institute, the team met at the Children’s Museum where Remake Learning challenged each of the sixteen cohorts to examine the motivation behind their projects, their audience, and the effects they anticipated a design change might inspire. Design Team members mingled amongst the groups to ask questions and become acquainted with the teams. The entire day challenged the cohorts to be introspective about their process and their mission, which set the stage for Day Two where the entire group was tasked with designing spaces that reflected those missions and supported those processes. The sixteen cohorts were split into four groups, with each group of four paired with two Design Team members and local Pittsburgh architects. In our group, Kerry Leonard of Reimagine America’s Schools and I were joined by Dan Engen, a Pittsburgh school architect. We worked with Attack Theater, the Allegheny Valley School District, the Human Services Corporation, and the Riverview School District. Riverview’s cohort
team included a faculty advisor, but their entire presentation was student-driven and student-led. One by one, each cohort team introduced their organization; the community that they served; their initial thoughts for a redesign; and the motivation behind their desire for transformation. For approximately 45 minutes after the introduction, the Design Team led a session in which we, as a group, asked the team questions about their space; their current needs; the way in which the space was currently used; and sought to elicit the information that would make the inspiration for the project as clear (and open-ended) as possible. Throughout the day, as cohort teams became familiar with one another and familiar with this stage of the design thinking process, the groups became visibly more comfortable and participated more and more in the presentations of other groups. It was not until at least an hour into each team’s session did we begin to discuss the proposed design of the space. By then, we knew the driving themes for each renovation and the goals we had set to measure how successfully each design was addressing the themes. The design phase of the charrettes consisted of divergent brainstorming and convergent brainstorming. During the divergent brainstorming time, we looked at multiple scenarios and thought about how they would influence and be influenced by various users and project stakeholders; different existing adjacencies to the space; and what connections could be made (physical or relational) by manipulating various design elements. We brainstormed and discussed until ultimately each group had their “AHA!” moment. In the case of Allegheny Valley School District’s project, we ended up pivoting completely from their idea of renovating a perfectly adequate library to a new idea of renovating an adjacent, MARCH 2021 | PAGE 7
Reimagine America’s Schools National Design Team (L to R): Scott Krenner, AIA, Cuningham Group Architecture, Inc.; Ron Bogle, Hon. AIA, Reimagine America’s Schools; Philip Poinelli, FAIA, SMMA; Sarah Weissman Dirsa, AIA, KG+D Architects; Ngozi Brown, AIA, nob a+d; August F. Battaglia, FAIA, Design Principal Emeritus; Amy Yurko, AIA, Brain Spaces, Inc.; Emily E. Czarnecki, NCIDQ, JCJ Architecture; and Kerry Leonard, AIA, Reimagine America’s Schools. Photo courtesy of Reimagine America’s Schools.
under-utilized conference room and converting it into a space that would be a catalyst for their students’ voices. The library space was too big and had too many preconceived ideas about how it should be used to serve as a catalyst for a next generation learning space. Once we landed upon our major motivation for each space, we spent the next part of the process doing convergent thinking, eliminating some ideas and keeping only the ones that supported the vision and could be achieved with the $50,000 grant money. This limiting factor forced everyone to focus on the big picture goal and determine what design decisions could make the biggest impact as a Phase 1 for each team. For the Human Services Corporation, this was primarily an exercise in selecting furniture and finishes for their after-school and camp room where we endeavored to create an inviting, non-institutional, and easily adaptable space that the students deserve. For Attack Theater, who had recently moved into a new home in a Pittsburgh neighborhood arts corridor, they decided that it was important to use the grant money to install a sprung dance floor. We brainstormed ways in which this system and the importance of it could be shared with a wider community, in support of their legacy of community engagement and enrichment, and their promotion of dance and kinesthetic learning. The most amazing part of this exercise, was to see the connections that were quickly formed between cohort groups (as well as with the Design Team) and offers to create cooperative
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relationships beyond our brief time together. By intentionally structuring the event with four cohort members together, the plan was to grow connections between dissimilar groups to learn from each other during the charrette and to plant the seeds for a learning community amongst the groups for the future. On Day Three, after a long night of sketching and organizing the team’s work into a conceptual design document, the Reimagine America’s Schools Design Team shared our recapped understanding from the day before in a presentation that cohorts could share with their local architecture partners. Each team celebrated the others and the fact that we, as a group, had captured their goals and told their stories. At the end of our design session, before leaving to share with the other cohort and design teams, Attack Theater led the group in an interpretive dance of our time together, which by that point felt far more comfortable than one would think for a group of people who had only met the day before. On a personal level, after three full days of design thinking and collaboration, I left the Design Institute feeling exhausted. However, much more significantly, I felt inspired by what I saw and what I was able to facilitate. The relationship we had with our cohort teams and the other Design Team members was so special – it re-energized me and my love for design, for problem solving, and for collaboration with other innovators. We worked hard but the process of engagement and the sharing of ideas was absolutely worth the effort.
to be defined, helping to create a framework for the projects with real-world constraints and possibilities. Understanding this allows projects to be more realistic and achievable. Architects can help in the early stage of Design Thinking before a project has even been selected. Architects are problem solvers, but more importantly we can also be problem finders. We can ask questions that force others to rethink preconceived ideas and that create relationships between things that were previously unassociated. For anyone considering a project related to Active Learning, Next Generation Design, Learner Centered Design, or anything else, it may be beneficial to engage an architect to participate as part of your team well before reaching the traditional design phases. Lastly, for Active Learning projects to be truly successful, it is important to celebrate them. Get people excited by a new project. Spend time doing marketing, both internally and externally to the direct network of project users and stakeholders to showcase the project and exemplify why it is a benefit to learners and the greater community. l
Top: Allegheny Creating Connections & Bottom: Attack Theater Adjacencies - The divergent and convergent design process led each group to an “AHA!” moment that was captured by the Design Team in a concept sketch and PowerPoint presentation that each group could use to communicate their ideas to others after the charrette. Images courtesy of Reimagine America’s Schools.
Active Learning The activities that occurred during and the lessons learned from the Blueprint for Learning Design Institute are ones that can be easily replicated and used by any group seeking to redesign or create spaces for Active Learning. The Design Thinking process we used allowed us to hone in on a clear inspiration for each project, and we generated multiple ideas to refine the one(s) that would best support it. It is important to consider and engage all the project stakeholders, their needs, and their priorities in order to create spaces that are positively accepted and that accomplish their goals in providing vibrant, welcoming, inclusive learning environments in their communities. Small scale projects, especially, most often must serve multiple purposes and the more engagement and inclusivity there is at the beginning of the design process, the more successful the projects will be at the end. Engaging stakeholders early on also allows the project opportunities and limitations
Sarah is leading the advancement of KG+D’s Next Generation educational facility design expertise. She has a particular interest in finding overlaps between curriculum and design to produce Active Learning and Learner-Centered environments. Prior to joining KG+D, she was an Associate at HOK where she co-founded HOK IMPACT and served as the first ever Global Chair of Social Responsibility. Sarah is the recipient of several awards including the 2015 AIA Young Architects Award, the 2015 ENR Midwest 20 Under 40 Award, and the 2013 BD+C 40 Under 40 Award. Sarah has been partnering with Reimagine America’s Schools since 2019 and recently served as a panelist for the AIANYS webinar “Reimagining School Design.”
Ron Bogle, Hon. AIA and Kerry Leonard, AIA of Reimagine America’s Schools contributed to this article.
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LEADERSHIP BY DESIGN by Kirk Narburgh, FAIA, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C CEO/Managing Partner, King + King Architects, LLP
ur design of educational environments Pre-K through 12 has been evolving for several decades as teaching methodologies have transformed to a focus on 21st Century learning that includes STEAM, CTE, and project-based collaborative environments. Over that same time-frame, architects and designers have lost some ground with leading the building team as owners and facility managers have looked to others, such as educational planners and program/construction managers to fill, at times, that leadership void. To regain some of those planning and visioning responsibilities we need to build trust through actions and results. Architects and designers generally complete their educational process and practice architecture with very little understanding of how their character preferences positively effect relationships with people that we need to work with in a productive way. Most importantly the soft skills related to emotional intelligence within our industry are often overlooked. Those who are naturally “in-tune” are better equipped to be truly strong leaders in our profession and with our clients.
very narrow range in 6 of the possible 16 character typologies. These same 6 types make up only 25% of the general population!
There is much statistical data available regarding Myers-Briggs character profiles and this is where it gets interesting for architects. Typically, there is a balanced distribution of character types for all people, taking the assessment, within the 16 possible profiles. The delta from the least populated type to the most is only 12 percentage points (1.8% to 13.8%). However, with architects this even distribution does not exist and what we find is that an astonishing 80% of all architects fit within a
One Myers-Briggs designation, ENTJ (Extraversion, Intuition, Thinking, Judging), is the least populated type at 1.8% (of the general population) but with architects it makes up 31%. ENTJ is known as the area in which “Life’s Natural Leaders” reside. I am an ENTJ and probably in one way or another explains why I am writing this piece as the Past-President of AIA New York State and CEO/Managing Partner of my firm. Besides a predisposition to architecture, what characteristics do ENTJ’s share?
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Frank, decisive, assumes leadership readily, quickly identifies illogical and inefficient procedures/policies, and implements comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. I am sure that many of you reading this passage will find that these characteristics are true for you as well. They should because they identify with what we do as architects especially when developing creative solutions to challenges in the built environment and beyond. The ENTJ preferences, indicated above, tend to be common themes amongst the 5 other prevalent architecture “types” (ENFJ, ISTJ, INTJ, INFP, and INTP). One of our greatest strengths for architects is that we envision the future and have recognized leadership qualities. We are big-picture organizers and are able to think in terms of complete systems (i.e. buildings). However, the downside is that we have a tendency to lose sight of, or treat as less important, details and follow-through. This might explain why we are known for being wonderful procrastinators. Think about architecture school and how we would holistically design and re-design for weeks on end, to then “crank out” the evolved solutions in the last 48 hours ... residual habits which I am sure exist in some form within our own practices! Additional drawbacks include an individualistic attitude and a lack of empathy and overall impatience with teamwork. There can be arrogance that is perceived with our outside interactions. Collaborative and integrated design is critically important in our work but this presents a challenge to a number of architects who are much more comfortable presenting their own ideas for others to implement without in-depth discussion. I truly believe one reason for this is the fact that we spend most of our educational experiences working as single entities and then “selling” our individual designs to others. As part of my professional practice class, that I teach at Syracuse University, there is a required group case study exercise that proves challenging for many as the inevitable team dynamics take shape. In the end what prepares architects to work effectively with team members who are not like us (especially clients, contractors, educators, etc.)? The answer is most likely related to interactions with positive role models/mentors, diverse project/ planning experiences, and leadership opportunities.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Reprinted from verywellmind.com Have you ever heard someone describe themselves as an INTJ or an ESTP and wondered what those cryptic-sounding letters could mean? What these people are referring to is their personality type based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator is a self-report inventory designed to identify a person's personality type, strengths, and preferences. The questionnaire was developed by Isabel Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs based on their work with Carl Jung's theory of personality types. Today, the MBTI inventory is one of the most widely used psychological instruments in the world. Both Myers and Briggs were fascinated by Jung's theory of psychological types and recognized that the theory could have real-world applications. During World War II, they began researching and developing an indicator that could be utilized to help understand individual differences.
Next time you are having a challenging interaction or conversation with another person you might want to spend some time exploring how your preferences, as well as the other parties, could be contributing to the conflict. Be situationally aware and put yourself in “their shoes,” chart a new path, and adjust your leadership style. Architects will continue to think differently, analyze, and creatively problem-solve …We will because that is how we are “wired” and do it very well. The trick is to capitalize on our strengths, while recognizing and improving on our growth areas, so that we can craft better solutions for the world in which we live!
By helping people understand themselves, Myers and Briggs believed that they could help people select occupations that were best suited to their personality types and lead healthier, happier lives.
Architects are the leading edge of a design and construction industry that directly employs more than seven million Americans and accounts for one in nine dollars of Gross Domestic Product. For more than 150 years, the AIA has served as the voice of not only America’s architects, but of the millions of people who depend upon them to design safe and sustainable buildings. The more than 90,000 members of the AIA are committed to advancing policies that promote economic growth and job
Myers created the first version of the inventory during the 1940s, and the two women began testing the assessment on friends and family. They continued to fully develop the instrument over the next two decades. To learn more about the MBTI, go to: https://www.verywellmind.com/the-myers-briggs-type-indicator-2795583 www.truity.com for access to a free MBTI assessment and more information about the results “The Workplace Profiles” book from the authors of “Type Talk at Work,” Otto Kroeger with Janet M. Thuesen, and Hile Rutledge
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creation. AIA architects, and allied professionals, are working in every community across the country to revitalize our built environments where we live, learn, heal, work, educate, and play. AIA members are doing their part to ensure a vibrant and sustainable future but we need all of our elected federal, state, and local representatives to act, as well – to remove regulatory barriers that prevent our industry from getting back to work; to reform outdated laws and regulations that hold us back; and to advance policies that support sustainable economic growth in our communities. Please stay engaged with your elected officials and together we can make a difference. Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Architects, as the “trailblazers” of ingenuity and creativity, are in a unique position to lead our clients with a renewed spirit towards a post-pandemic economic recovery and with a keen focus on strengthening our communities and particularly our education environments. Every person is the architect of their own character and we must lead by example to be recognized and used as those client and community leaders that we are! l
Kirk brings thirty-four years of professional experience to his position as CEO/Managing Partner at King + King Architects and is the partner-in-charge of education projects for both higher education and K-12 environments. He is an adjunct professor at Syracuse University’s School of Architecture where he has been teaching Professional Practice and Digital Technology classes every semester for the past thirty years. He is the past 2012 President of the Central New York American Institute of Architects, the 2018 President of the New York State American Institute of Architects, and currently serves as the New York State regional representative to the AIA National Strategic Council Class of 2022. Kirk is an alumnus of Syracuse University where he earned a Master of Architecture (’90) and Cornell University where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture (’87).
GLASS IS THE WEAKEST ENTRY POINT. ALL IT TAKES IS ONE SHOT. Architects Can Be The First Responders. Armoured One’s Security Film and Glass are the first to be tested with a standard based on the history of active shooters and are the first to have passed testing using the Shooter Attack Test Method.
This is designed to slow down or deter an attacker from gaining entry with force or a gun.
SHOOTER ATTACK TESTED FILM & GLASS *UL Observed
ACTIVE SHOOTER SOLUTIONS DESIGNED BY EXPERTS PAGE 12 | JUNE 2021
www.armouredone.com | 315-720-4186
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ARCHITECTURE – MAKING ‘JOY IN LEARNING’ TANGIBLE THROUGH ENGAGEMENT, NATURE AND VERSATILITY by Dr. Christine E. Bruckner, FAIA, HKIA, R.A., HKIUD, LEED AP, BEAM Professional, BREEAM AP, RESET AP Fellow, WELL AP WELL Faculty, Fitwel Ambassador, LBC Ambassador, BG-EHP, Past President AIA International Region Director, M Moser Associates
“Fantastic insights” – Illya Azaroff, FAIA, AIANYS President
“Awesome to see what Christine is doing… bringing back discovery and wonder.” – Tom Ferrara, PE Director of Facilities III, Syracuse City School District
“Incredible bringing young kids into the process… bringing it into the curriculum… applaud M Moser for taking such a pro-active approach.” - Tom Ritzenthaler, AIA, Vice President, CSArch
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r. Christine Bruckner, FAIA jump-started the four-week AIANYS Reimagining School Design series, held back in April of this year, sharing spaces that ignite creativity, empower students and create vibrant, safe, interactive communities. Among her credentials as an architect and Director at M Moser Associates; Past President of the AIA International Region, IWBI Faculty, she has decades active with school designs and facilities committees as a parent, educator, architect, energy consultant and environmental steward. More than anything, it is her passion and conviction in the power of architecture to help people meet and exceed their potential by shaping a healthy, joy-filled, sustainable future. For more on designing for Joy in schools see Christine’s article in Britain in Hong Kong (Issue 53.2). Dr. Bruckner revisits three of the key topics shared in her presentation during the Reimagning series: joy and wonder – integration with nature – adaptability towards 100% efficiency. Thank you to AIA New York State, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and the School of Facilities Management for hosting this critical series on Reimagining School Design and for the opportunity to share and help co-create the interactive workshop portion around the question, “As we emerge from Covid-19 how do we make schools more joyous?”
Together, we reimagine | students enjoy time sharing ideas in the M Moser Assocuates office | inspiring one another!
The importance of infusing joy into our learning environments and lives at all ages is paramount. For students, teachers, administrators, operators, architects and all stakeholders, the first step is to work together—to be involved and engaged. The sense of empowerment and excitement that comes from creating one’s own environment is palpable and leads to an essential sense of belonging—the joy of community (and to some fabulous ideas)!
JOY THROUGH ENGAGEMENT The delight that stems from finding one’s voice can lead even our youngest to thrive with wonder and acceptance. Like any healthy discourse, every idea serves as a critical steppingstone to the next insight. Some ideas may present ahead of their time like this one: ‘Let’s make the roofs all clear energy rechargers so we can see the sky and power the school with the sun’—excellent, creative direction. We are pursuing research with flexible, transparent graphene solar panel solutions and training as a firm in bespoke integrated Daylighting Design analysis to scientifically maximize circadian lighting for optimal health and learning outcomes. In the meantime, in every school and space we craft, we make sure: the sky is visible through building form, clerestory and skylight, all learning spaces are filled with natural light, and solar panel arrays are incorporated to provide power and teach about renewables.
practicality. For a Middle-school design we embraced this idea and found ways to make school walls inside and outside safely climbable. In doing so we further integrated the design with curriculum and created pure joy in design and anticipation. Kids couldn’t wait to play in, and on, their school. This process of creativity pushing beyond limits and actively engaging students of all ages, is an exciting part of reimagining school design for us as architects. More rewarding still is the pride, wonder and excitement on their faces when we show how ideas are implemented and delivered, and the eruption of joyful applause at the sheer delight of their collaborative innovation. Countless endearing stories of engagement impact the architecture from structural and acoustic details, construction, furniture selection and environmental responsibility. Inclusive loud spaces; whole school-wide lunch hour; harvesting roof gardens; micro-movement furniture incorporation to support focus; and writable walls and desks to enhance collaboration, learning and support zero waste initiatives. We get to work together with collective action and decision-making to share and implement net zero directions, health promoting prioritizations and inclusive, restorative solutions for school environments. The process of reimagining is one of continuous innovation and implementation.
Another student idea, ‘let’s make every wall inside and out climbable.’ This may inspire queries about safety, usability and
Daylight infused | versatile, multi-purpose | dynamic learning environments for investigation and experimentation - Concordia JUNE 2021 | PAGE 15
Mobile study pods for curation | moveable walls and sit-stand furniture | indoor outdoor integration | writable wall and desk services - LPC
INTEGRATING NATURE Another facet of inherent joy is our human connection to the natural environment. Research shows that people learn better, test better, feel better and live healthier when they have ample day light, fresh air and connection to nature. Biophilia – love of nature - is imperative to incorporate as we reimagine our school environments. Just as the buildings and campuses that we shape, in turn shape the lives, behaviors and learning successes of those who study within, so designing the right learning environment is key to educational success. Creating places that ignite creativity and provide a blank canvas for thinking. Proportioning restorative environments imbued with nature. Providing the calm necessary to nurture and engage flow. When all wellbeing needs are met, a school can serve as a teacher and effectually support students in reaching and exceeding their own potential. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rise and fall across the globe, there are multifaceted psychological and physiological challenges we now face. From pandemic-related stress syndrome to Zoom fatigue, combined with the ongoing impact of a global climate crisis, new health and wellness issues are coming to the forefront. Purpose, resilience and adaptability are taking on new meaning. Replacing the old paradigm of ‘cells, bells and scores’ to completely reimagine a school as a healthy, wonder-provoking, ever-adapting, park-like environment. One which simultaneously delivers measured filtered fresh air, glare-free daylight*, acoustic provisions, views, greenery and naturally healthy materials from timber* to textiles.
(*for more on the importance of wood in design link here - http://www.ahec-china.org/a-look-at-the-intangible-benefits-of-designing-with-wood-for-human-health-mental-wellbeing-and-planetary-stewardship/¬) ;for more on design with daylight link here - https://gbdmagazine.com/ask-the-expertwsla-insights-christine-bruckner/) We share lessons on the healing power of architecture from our large-scale campus designs– for versatility, access to nature and connectivity – bringing to life a multi-level, inside-outside oasis for collaboration and discovery. Vibrant campus designs define internal green environments which enhance the surrounding spaces and create a collective community center. Careful consideration of new-buildings combined with revitalizations pave the way for multi-building schools to integrate internal entries, proximate greenery, transparency, connectivity, safety and fluidity and enhance the character of their own unique built communities.
AIR IMPACTS Nature-integrated campus designs encourage physical health and movement, while providing for diverse educational environments and increased fresh air. With children ready to return to school and a need for increased confidence in health and safety, improved air quality can provide greater piece of mind as we breathe almost 15,000 liters a day. This is equally important for the people designing, building and using a space. Real-time IAQ monitoring at LPC effectively monitors indoor air quality and data collected empowers students to make healthy decisions. When to open their space to the courtyard soccer pitch, to the interstitial forest or to the student-led vegetable garden terrace beyond the library.
Library | moveable double-layered bookshelves | window seats | integrated biophilia | indoor air filtration | moveable tables | terrace - LPC PAGE 16 | JUNE 2021
Data measurement makes the invisible, visible; removing fear of the unknown and empowering users to continuously improve their environment. It also reminds us as architects to be relentless in our specifications for healthy, non-toxic, resilient materials, because we are what we breathe and in our modern, manufactured world, “dust” is almost entirely synthetic. We also get to advise on healthy operations and cleaning equipment. For some schools we help them to achieve the new WELL Health-Safety Rating to further build confidence, for others we focus on Fitwel or LEED certifications. But in all we aim to utilize 110% of the available area.
VERSATILITY AND 100% EFFICIENCY In another middle school design, we expand the traditional hallways to create places for meeting, studying and working together. This effectively integrates circulation towards a more 100% efficient use of school square footage. The zone can be an extension for a classroom when a teacher wants to encourage break-out group work and can provide an alternative eating area and play zone for students between classes. When viewed in combination with moveable dividing walls, height-adjustable desks, chairs with integral wheels and book storage, and even exterior walls which raise and disappear. The reimagined school becomes completely adaptable, functionally limitless and beautifully integrated. Images show some of the moveable library bookshelves, the integration of study carols in the walkways and of gathering spaces throughout. As well as of the unique pods that can be rolled outside to encourage students to work together, curate exhibitions, create activity zones and design their own school environment.
Just as making our air quality data visible impacts behaviors and learning, so does intuitive design integration which encourages users to iterate and change their spaces to meet ever-changing needs. Ultimately the reimagined school is designed with students for students and is as limitless as the imagination. l
Christine is an architect actively supporting best practice, sustainability, and wellness in design. As a Director at M Moser Associates, she brings her experience with urban integration, revitalisation, and design excellence to guide the development of our built environment at all scales. Her focus is working with client and community stakeholders to encourage deep dive investigation, coordination and sustainable best practice. As a LEED AP, LBC Ambassador and BEAM professional, Christine is also an early adapter of the International WELL Building Institute and leads M Moser’s global sustainable and wellness integrative design solution initiatives.
JUNE 2021 | PAGE 17
RE-IMAGINED AND UNIFIED SOLUTIONS.
UNIFIED SECURITY IN A POST-COVID WORLD Schools and Universities, as well as all other aspects of life, survived several challenges and changes in the last 18 months due to the Covid pandemic. The K-12 communities were hit as hard as any. Students and teachers dealt with stay-at-home orders, isolation from friends, mentors and coworkers, social distancing, wearing masks, and daily changes in the rules of health and safety. We have answered Covid questionnaires and had our temperatures taken to gain access to the school, and we have all been subject to quarantines based on contact tracing. School communities have also had to deal with societal changes, increases in crime in and around the schools, and a reduction of police presence and resource officers, due to retirements and low recruitment. Security integration companies, such as Maxxess, have had to adapt their existing solutions or develop new technologies to combat these challenges.
WHAT TO EXPECT FOR THE 2021-22 SCHOOL YEAR? As we get back into the classrooms this coming fall, we are going to be challenged by new threats to the school’s safety and security. As we learned in part #3 of School Security, beyond the Hardware by the NYS AIA, a large majority of K-12 students have felt bullied in the past, depression from their bullying, and in some cases had contemplated suicide as a result. Now 18 months later, in many cases isolated over long periods of time, separated from friends and mentors, these students may feel even more vulnerable to bullying. Bullies, for many of the same reasons, may feel more emboldened than ever to prey on other students. Again, prior to the pandemic, school violence and school shootings were already a scourge on society. This too, is expected to accelerate in this post-Covid world. Add that to a shortage in resource officers and police, the need for unified and proactive solutions from the security industry is essential. Maxxess Systems has focused its efforts over the past year to re-imagine our solutions as well as develop new solutions to offer schools a proactive unified solution to meet these needs.
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At Maxxess Systems, we have taken each challenge of the past 18 months and used it in a way to help our clients more effectively. We have developed new integration to thermal technology so our clients could take temperatures without having to man each entrance and interact with potentially contagious individuals. We added a health questionnaire to our InSite SaaS and then used both to authenticate the users access status. Although Covid new cases and deaths are dropping significantly each week, the scanning of health will continue well into the future. The days of going to school or work with the flu or a cold are over. Teachers and students will stay at home and go to classes online from now on. Therefore, scanning for fevers and health questionnaires are most likely here to stay. When it comes to bullying, our Insite app will allow teachers and students to report acts of bullying quietly and discreetly, while integration to cameras can proactively activate video in the middle of the incident, at the same time notifying teachers, resource off icers, or counselors. That notification can be integrated to Motorola radios through smart push to talk. Teachers, administrators, and counselors can also report bullying, unruly behavior, or acts of violence through our Hot Key product, which is also integrated into InSite. Furthermore, Maxxess has made many innovative changes in the areas of integration, communication, and notification while offering a complete and unified security solution. In the case of an active shooter or other catastrophic emergency event InSite can be used as a reporting tool by staff and students when the potential active shooter is first identified. Through integration of eFusion, Maxxess access control solution, a lock-down can be activated from that insight reporting. Simultaneously through integration to the IP phone system, prerecorded notifications can be sent to first responders. The notification portion of InSite would send out a survey notifying everyone on campus that an active shooter has been identified and to shelter in place. It would ask each person if they were safe, needed help, or off campus, allowing the school to quickly muster their staff and student bodies. This information can also be shared immediately with first responders. The unified system could also be integrated into other technologies such as video systems, gun detection devices, two-way radios, Telaeris handheld readers, and many other security devices. This unified integrated security approach limits human error or slow or lack of communication by automatically addressing the communication and notification issues. For more information, please contact Stephen Purificato at Maxxess Systems firstname.lastname@example.org or 518-813-2952.
JUNE 2021 | PAGE 19
AN ARCHITECT AND FORMER EDUCATOR’S PERSPECTIVE ON THE IMPORTANCE OF SCHOOL DESIGN by By: Mark McCarthy AIA, LEED AP, Design Director at CSArch
In memory of Christine Schlendorf, AIA. My former partner, friend, and a dedicated champion of school design for all.
n the late 1980s after studying Fine Arts at SUNY New Paltz, I had enough education credits for a temporary license to teach in the New York City public school system. At the time, the city was dealing with a drug epidemic, heightened crime rate, and an increasing challenge to find qualified teachers. Days after agreeing to substitute teach at a middle school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, I accepted a full-time position as a science and homeroom teacher. Despite having not taken a science course for years, I was happy to be part of the core faculty and a homeroom teacher responsible for my students beyond the curriculum requirements. I wanted to be challenged and was ready to make a difference in the young lives of those most impacted by an education system in flux. Although my world was almost entirely within the four walls of my classroom, I do not remember being particularly interested in the physical spaces of the building. Located on the ground floor near the back entry, my classroom had a large window with a metal grill covering for safety. The cabinets were old and filled with outdated materials I rarely used. My students sat in rows of desks, and I was happy if they settled down long enough for me to start the lesson. With no formal education degree or experience teaching in a classroom setting, I was underprepared and overwhelmed. I receive little guidance or
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Former IS 320, now Jackie Robinson Elementary School, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Mark’s classroom was just to the right.
lesson plans; rather, I was told that it was enough to work on reading comprehension to prepare students for state testing in the spring. It was the hardest job I have ever had and at three o’clock I was spent. Despite those challenges, the community, faculty, and students welcomed and supported me, and the day I left triggered more real emotions than I have ever felt in any other time in my professional career. I saw many teachers who were truly gifted, which helped me realize that this was not the right career path for me. After two years of teaching, I moved on to pursue a master’s in archi-
tecture at the University of Pennsylvania. During my time as a teacher, I was so consumed in the well-being and success of my students that my only concerns regarding the building were finding the copier and a safe place to park. However, it was those experiences that shaped my perspective and approach as an architect and helped me understand how people in different roles view educational space. The majority of my 25-year career as an architect has focused on the design of learning spaces for primary and secondary education, with work extending from public and charter schools in New York to international schools in China and the Middle East. While the type of work has varied to include renovations, new construction, and five-year plans for urban, suburban, and rural districts, my time in the classroom has kept my approach simple and grounded. As architects, it is easy to get carried away in the minute details of a given space, but sometimes teachers simply require a space that is unobtrusive and functional, allowing them to juggle numerous responsibilities without really thinking about the building at all. When I look at both my time as a teacher and career as an architect, I often return to four critical elements of school design:
INSPIRE: Like a church or a museum, school design
should transform the lives of those who use it. Schools are special spaces that educate, empower, and engage learners, teachers, and the community. Inspiring space does not necessarily have to be grand, but through scale, material, and light, spaces change our relationship to the world.
COMFORT: Comfort is not just about temperature, but also includes scale and design that is fit for all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Comfort includes ideas of sustainability, as well as air quality, acoustics, and light to provide space that does not distract or hinder students’ ability to learn.
Dream Academy, East Harlem, NY. A small niche in the corridor serves as a breakout teaching space for small groups and a connection to a roof terrace with gardens. (Photo Credits: © Perkins Eastman)
ADAPT: Don’t just design for tomorrow. Schools and educational trends change often and, as architects, we need to embrace and plan for that while understanding that buildings last 40 to 50 years or more. While flexibility pertains more to the day-to-day, multi-purpose nature of space, adaptability focuses on how a simple, sturdy building design can provide useful and easy-to-maintain spaces capable of supporting different programmatic uses over time.
Charter Oak International Magnet School, West Hartford, Small classroom space left open to the corridor for impromptu learning and flexibility. This space is “unprogrammed” to allow for change. Visually connected to the gymnasium below. (Photo Credit: © Perkins Eastman)
Corvian High school, Charlotte NC. Multi-purpose space serves as the dining space as well as a place for performance or assembly. Natural light comes from 3 directions. (Photo Credit: © ksq design)
JUNE 2021 | PAGE 21
The complete renovation and expansion of Albany High School added much-needed natural light to every learning space, providing a positive environment for students and teachers. (Photo Credits: © CSArch)
With more than 25 years of experience leading design teams through various project types, Mark brings a level of insight and collaboration that ensures a successful outcome. Mark’s career has focused on the design of educational facilities for public and private institutions. As an architect from a family of educators, he engages others with his thoughtfulness, creativity, and hands-on approach to project management.
PURPOSE: Every design decision should convey inten-
tion. Purposeful education design should be simple, safe, and durable, not fussy or imposing the architect’s vision. Organization and hierarchy should be clear with wayfinding that is natural and intuitive. Most importantly, design for education should maximize natural light that enhances energy savings and provides a positive physiological effect on students and faculty. Even in the most urban places, making connections to the outside using biophilic design principles serves a critical purpose in promoting health and well-being. The complete renovation and expansion of Albany High School added much-needed natural light to every learning space, providing a positive environment for students and teachers.
Modular International, Inc. Innovative Architectural Lighting
As an architect and former teacher, my experiences have given me a unique approach that views design from an educator’s perspective. At a time when the need and desire for in-person learning is more apparent than ever, architects can take a step back to best understand the qualities of school design that enable people to do such important work. This past year has reminded us that we cannot predict how the spaces we create will need to serve. The eventual return to normalcy will surely reveal a heightened emphasis on healthy learning spaces that promote collaborative, hands-on learning, and school design should continue to support these trends." l
3941 California Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15212 1-412-734-9000 www.ModularInternational.com
PAGE 22 | JUNE 2021
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REIMAGINING BUFFALO’S HISTORIC SCHOOLS by Paul McDonnell, AIA
wenty years ago the Buffalo City School District embarked on an ambitious project to reconstruct, consolidate and right size its school facilities. Ultimately costing over $1.3 billion, the 15-year project resulted in the reconstruction of 48 schools. Like most “rust belt” cities Buffalo has seen its population drop significantly in the last seventy years. The City reached its peak in 1950 and ranked fifteenth in the country with a population of over 580,000. By 2000 the population had dropped to 292,000 and school enrollment was 45,000 student attending 78 buildings. By 2015 enrollment was down to 34,000 in 60 school buildings. While some of this was attributable to residents leaving the city, many students had shifted to the newly created charter schools. As the population dropped, new school construction stagnated and maintenance and capital improvements on the remaining buildings dropped precipitously. With advancing age, Buffalo’s students were trapped in outdated and inferior schools, especially when compared to their suburban neighbors. The New York State Education Department recognized the obstacles Buffalo was facing and offered an extraordinary amount of building aid, (93.7%), to reconstruct and update its schools. In addition, special legislation was passed to allow Buffalo to pursue financing other than the general municipal bonds sold by the City of Buffalo. To facilitate this a Joint School Construction Board (JSCB) was developed with members from the school district, city and comptroller’s office overseeing the project. They in turn hired the LP Ciminelli Construction Com-
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School 97, Harvey Austin Elementary, Cannon Design
panies to act as “Program Provider.” Ciminelli would finance the project through the Erie County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and then in partnership with the school district facilities department, they hired architects for programming and design and then procured contractors through completive bidding and managed construction. The 93.7% building aid from New York State would go directly to pay the IDA bonds while the remaining 7.3% would be paid through interest on the bonds and Energy Performance Contracts developed by Johnson Controls. Reconstruction would cost the Buffalo City School District virtually nothing.
School 80, Highgate Heights Elementary, Flynn Battaglia
School 67, Discovery Elementary, HHL Architects
The first step the district took was to survey and evaluate all 78 existing buildings to determine what work was and what buildings would be renovated or closed. Generally, Buffalo’s schools were safe, clean and well maintained by the custodial staff, but numerous deficiencies were glaringly apparent. These included inadequate power for computers and electronics, little or no Internet access, old plumbing, drafty windows, leaky roofs, inefficient heating systems, disabled ventilation systems and worn finishes. Programmatically, classrooms, cafeterias and gymnasiums were undersized, science labs were deficient in both size and equipment, and there were very few support spaces for counselors, social workers and therapists. What also was apparent however, was the inherent quality of most of these buildings. Constructed entirely of masonry, with large, bright windows, terrazzo floors, rich woodwork and elaborate auditoriums, these buildings could not be duplicated and would surely last decades more. It was determined that instead of building new schools; the existing ones would be renovated and necessary additions constructed to provide the missing program spaces.
that any of the renovations and changes did not adversely impact the historic fabric of the buildings. One of the most important elements considered was the treatment of windows. No longer would inappropriate aluminum windows with opaque upper panels be used. All of the historic buildings would have their original windows completely restored or replaced with new ones matching the originals. Windows were removed from the building and taken off site, stripped of paint, repaired, glazed with insulated glass, replacing the original single glass. They were then painted, reinstalled in new weather-stripped frames, and rebalanced. The restored windows are not only sensitive to the design of the building, but they provide ample ventilation, insulation and daylight. Experience has determined them to be far superior to vinyl or aluminum windows. Where new windows were necessary, they were designed to match the originals and constructed of sustainable mahogany or Spanish cedar that mimicked the originals.
The majority of Buffalo’s schools were built between 1912 and 1939. Ms. Claire Ross of the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in her letter determining historic significance stated that these schools are “significant examples of early twentieth century urban school architecture found in Western New York.” She went on to say “These buildings possess additional significance for representing the response of the City to expanding school-age population in the booming community and they stand as a reminder of the importance of public education in the history of Buffalo. Designed by local architects, these schools are typical of the period of significance and are fine examples of standardized school design of the early twentieth century.” It was decided that virtually all of the Buffalo Schools constructed before World War II were eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and plans and specifications for the renovations would be reviewed by the SHPO. Buffalo treated the historic status as an opportunity to define the direction of the project and SHPO reviews would ensure
A major obstacle the district had to address was accommodating contemporary programs in buildings that had been constructed for totally different functions. For example, School 97, Harvey Austin Elementary was formerly a vocational high school filled with large shops for culinary arts, woodworking and furniture construction. In its change to a middle school, these rooms were reconfigured to smaller classrooms while maintaining the full height renovated factory windows and the north facing saw tooth skylights. The result is wonderfully bright classrooms, labs a library and offices that preserve the integrity of the original architecture. From the outside one could not tell the function has changed. School 80, Highgate Heights and School 67, Discovery were originally designed with the same building plan, yet their new use would be very different. School 80, is a traditional neighborhood elementary school with a program that revolves around literacy. The finishes and colors are reminiscent of those used when the building was first built, from the round school house light fixtures to the oak woodwork, the linoleum flooring and the original restored windows. Most of the original cabinetry and classroom doors were restored. In the center of the building both figuratively and physically is the MARCH 2021 | PAGE 25
Buffalo Culinary School, Kideney Architects
Hutchinson Central Technical High School, Montante Solar
library covered by restored skylights in the courtyard roof. Two areas not envisioned in the 1920’s when the building was originally designed were the large cafeteria (children used to walk home for lunch) and science labs. These were accommodated in new additions at either end of the building. Outside, the attention to traditional detail continues with the copper covered classical canopies at two of the entrances and the gently curved cafeteria wall containing a distinctive diagonal “diapering” pattern adorning the brick that complements the original building.
each of the buildings. Producing 3 megawatts, it is the largest public school solar project in New York State
School 67 houses a brand new elementary level program entitled Discovery, that encourages hands on learning. The architect chose to utilize the center open courtyard of the building by demolishing the one story portion and replacing it with a the cafeteria and multi-level library. Covering this space is a four story high lightweight fabric roof providing diffused light to the space. The fabric roof required very little structure and from the outside it is virtually invisible, thus not altering the historic exterior. In keeping with the “discovery” theme all the interior frame work for the roof is exposed and electrical conduit, wiring, plumbing and sprinkler lines throughout the building are left open for the children to see. A highlight is the full height glass enclosed elevator supported by four bright red columns soaring through the center of the building under the fabric roof. The JSCB project allowed Buffalo to provide its students with some truly unique buildings housing programs unavailable in any other local school district. These include a Visual and Performing Arts School with a state-of-the-art theater, television studio, art rooms and black box theater. Burgard Vocational High School located in a 1920’s vintage building trains students in auto mechanics and machinery. Buffalo also has two Culinary schools in downtown Buffalo where the students not only produce the food but operate restaurants that serve downtown customers breakfast and lunch. Recently Buffalo installed solar panels on 19 schools. These panels provide approximately 20% of the required power to
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Ultimately no one can deny the success of this reconstruction and historic preservation program. The district realizes that strong, successful schools are vital for the city to thrive. In addition, these facilities are the focal points within their neighborhoods and can be the catalyst for community redevelopment. Neighborhood schools are an asset that the suburban districts don’t offer. With this project, Buffalo has been able to maintain the integrity of its architecturally significant schools while creating learning environments that are a match to any other in New York State. l
Paul is a lifelong resident of Buffalo, NY. He spent 32 years working as an architect in the public sector—the last 25 years was as an architect and the Director of Facilities for Buffalo Public Schools. The highlight of his career was managing the $1.3 billion Joint School Construction project which completely renovated 48 of Buffalo’s schools. Paul is an expert in historic preservation. His work with the Buffalo school district involved dozens of landmarked buildings. He also served as chair of the Buffalo Preservation Board for 11 years. He is co-founder and president of Buffalo’s leading preservation advocacy organization, the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History Architecture and Culture and board member for the Buffalo/Niagara Freedom Station. Paul has served as President of AIA Buffalo/WNY, as a Director and Vice President for Communications & Public Awareness for AIANYS and is currently serving as the Vice President for Education for AIANYS.
SOPHISTICATED COUNSEL FOR COMPLEX CONSTRUCTION. WWW.ZDLAW.COM 801 SECOND AVENUE • NEW YORK, NY
JUNE 2021 | PAGE 27
DESIGNING AMBIGUITY by Caitlin Daly, AIA
nderstanding what flexible learning spaces are in educational design is as simple as it is complex. A flexible learning space is intended to allow for an interdisciplinary, active approach to learning. Spurred on by engageNY and NYS Next Generation Learning Standards, school districts are eagerly seeking to incorporate active learning methods into their curriculum to rejuvenate their learning spaces. From revised English Language Arts Learning Standards to Technology Education to STEM initiatives, shifting the method of teaching requires a shift in design. Conceptually, the flexible learning space is based on the simple idea of designating space adjacent to or within a larger, traditional teaching space to encourage small group learning, individual study, or one-on-one interaction. While architects have been developing these types of spaces with education clients for several years now what was being design did not always work as intended and some districts hesitant to develop existing spaces into new flexible learning labs. So how can architects pivot their current design thinking to achieve flexible learning spaces that successfully respond to the many unique programmatic needs within an individual school?
GET WITH THE PROGRAM Starting with programming, we open the dialogue to establish the rules we are using to paint a vision of the future. Gathering information from the users to establish the foundation by which we understand the space we are intended to design. Traditionally, this involves working with the district to establish PAGE 28 | JUNE 2021
Photo Credit: © David Lamb
user groups based around different departments. Then, working with each user group, the team delves in the specifics of their programmatic requirements, including by not limited to technology, storage, and individual teaching methods. Continuing down this path allows for each program unit to be designed as a single entity, which usually results in a standardized yet subtly unique template for each class within that program. However, this traditional approach does not necessarily allow for cross pollination of spatial and programmatic ideas between curriculum programs. This begs the question, does the traditional approach to educational programming respond to the need for more interconnected, collaborative learning that is becoming apparent in the curriculum guidelines? Or are we tying ourselves into singular solutions? For the CSArch design team that worked with Queensbury Union Free School District, these were questions they had to answer as they began the project. At the beginning, the collective team discussed how changes in the teaching methodology could inspire transformations in the classroom form and vice versa. This led the design team to break the program user groups into blocks around STEM, Humanities, Central Support, Innovations, and the Arts with the goal of deconstructing the traditional silos and replacing them
with interdisciplinary instructional communities. Intentionally breaking down barriers between teaching, studying, and gathering spaces through physical and visual connections created a complete learning environment providing multiple ways to interact and engage with the students. One feature the users gravitated towards are extended collaboration pod spread throughout the plan filled with a range of moveable seating, and technology, offering the chance for informal discussion and group projects.
THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGY ON FLEXIBILITY Acknowledging the mass of technology that is required to bring a 21st century classroom to life does start to design in certain limitations. While the design team was discussing what the district really envisioned for collaborative learning, areas within each of the program units were being selected for teaching walls, and technology integration was locking down the form of the space to hold to the schedule. As far as traditional design goes, there is nothing unusual about that process. However, this focus on flexibility is transitioning the architect’s viewpoint away from the physical design of the building to its use by staff and students, which continues our JUNE 2021 | PAGE 29
EXPANDING OUR VIEW OF FLEXIBLE LEARNING
Photo Credit: © David Lamb
intervention beyond the construction of our project. Expecting architects to project their design into the future and readily adapt to unexpected circumstances. As architects we can no longer be satisfied with providing an empty box with walls, ceilings, or floors full of access to data, power, whiteboards, and moveable furniture. While our client is focused on the driving the current and future use of the space, I must ask myself, what about flexibility can we learn or are we still leaving districts with empty shells expecting them to fill in the gaps?
Given the fast-paced modern world, there is nothing to say that a design will not become obsolete. The questions then are not how does a space work, but how could it work. Specifically, when discussing learning environments, the focus needs to be on how we can engage the user. Understanding that the core spatial needs for most of the programs will remain constant, focusing on how programs interact and relate will drive educational design forward. Allowing for juxtapositions between programs starts to break down the traditional barriers and create flexible learning spaces encouraging teachers to think beyond traditional teaching methods and fosters a notion of life-long learning. Our responsibility is to design these areas of intervention in a manner which allows for continuing fluctuation. Being bound by the traditional, program-first notion of designing boxes for our clients hinders their ability to explore the changing curriculum. By expanding our view of flexible learning spaces, the design team has opportunity to design out certain limitation, thus design in more future possibilities. l
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH FLEXIBILITY? Analyzing a flexible learning lab, some potential flaws exist. First, is acoustics. While the open feel is an inviting contrast to a constrained classroom, not every flexible learning space is designed with acoustics in mind. As with any education space, effectiveness in the ability to learn must present, yet the informality and spontaneity is a key factor in many types of active, fast-paced group work. Second, there is not enough flexibility to account for the rapidly changing technology. Locked in at the edges of the space, there are limited ways to arrange students and maintain access to the latest technology. Cord reels from the ceilings or floor boxes only go so far to provide students and teachers with the ability to plug in regardless of arrangement. For the collective team at Queensbury making the decision to build in programmatic as well as community based flexible learning spaces starts to elevate some tensions around technology, however no design will solve all of them. Lastly, the space was not different enough from a typical classroom to encourage people to use the space. Incorporating teaching walls and mobile furniture is not exceedingly different from a classroom. All this goes back to the first question, is the client looking for an interdisciplinary solution or a singular one? A flexible learning spaces could be designed in a single room, if they allowed for larger or smaller groups to break out for independent study or teaching. Flexibility is only as powerful as the ability to utilize the space. “The design of a space has to go beyond the needs of the users or even the best designed spaces sit vacant.” PAGE 30 | JUNE 2021
Photo Credit: © David Lamb
Caitlin is a Project Architect at CSArch, an educational design firm based in Albany and Newburgh.
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Portfolio Updates Government Advocacy During a year consumed with policy efforts to overcome and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, AIA New York State has continued to forge ahead with meeting the advocacy goals and objectives outlined in its new strategic plan. Volunteer advocates have risen to the challenge of advocating in a virtual world and engaged policymakers on topics ranging from the role of architects in making our schools safer and healthier, to joining forces with the environmental community to successfully push for the inclusion of the Environmental Bond Act in the State budget. Under the framework developed by the Grassroots Advocacy Task Force, AIANYS is working with local chapters to strengthen existing legislative relationships and forge new ones with the large crop of freshman lawmakers. AIANYS has effectively managed the opportunities and challenges of working within one-party control through steadfast vigilance and leveraging common interest among adjacent organizations. Policy effecting the built environment overlaps a myriad of areas of concern to lawmakers, and in many ways the profession continues to find itself in a position to provide expertise and solutions to some of the most significant quandaries facing society. The urgency to act on an issue, especially in times of crisis, leads lawmakers to rely on information, which is readily available, and without a thorough debate. The lack of an effective opposition party in either house of the Legislature makes this problem even more acute. Expanding our capacity to respond to the multitude of issues facing the profession and the built environment, through the recruitment and training of advocates, will be imperative to ensuring the profession’s voice remains relevant in the future. The association wide campaign to seek out, identify, and engage Subject Matter Experts will continue to be the primary strategy in building capacity in advocacy, education and communications. This campaign is dynamic and will continue into the foreseeable future as we engage member voices to help inform our policy platforms; education offerings and speak-up on behalf of the profession through communication avenues.
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Action on climate, sustainability, and the resilience of the built environment presents the single greatest need, as major policy proposals are in the works which will transform how buildings are designed, built, and powered. Sustainability and resiliency will be the most significant issues facing the profession for the next several decades, and with the approach of the New York State Climate Action Council Scoping Plan in 2022, it will be all hands on deck.
Communications & Public Awareness Communication Vehicles | Eleven issues of the e-news digital newsletter have been published since the beginning of the year. Over the second quarter (April 1 - June 11), the open rate was 21% (10% above the industry avg.) and the click rate was 6% (5% above the industry avg.). Seventy-two email campaigns were sent out to members, non-members, allied partners and potential sponsors totaling 555,816 sends; 112,862 opens and 6,863 clicks. The first issue of the quarterly publication, published at the end of March, received 1,202 impressions and 719 reads.
Disaster Assistance Handbook | The Disaster Assistance Handbook will serve as a resource for chapters and members to better understand their role in preparing for and responding to disasters throughout New York State. The Disaster Assistance Handbook Work Group, led by Tim Boyland, AIA and comprised of volunteer members, have been working together over the course of the year to develop a draft of the handbook. In addition to weekly meetings, the DAH Work Group held two three-hour work sessions on April 3 and April 10 that focused on the continued development of the handbook content. Following the work sessions, content development, editing and refinement continued and the first draft was shared with Illya Azaroff, FAIA; Tony DiBrita, Esq.; and Georgi Ann Bailey, CAE for initial review and comment on April 22, 2021. Through Illya, the first draft was also shared with the New York State Office of Emergency Management for review and input. Once the initial review is complete (date tbd), the work group will reconvene to review and apply the recommended additions and revisions. The goal is to release the first edition of the handbook in alignment with National Preparedness Month in September 2021.
Honor Awards Program Review | Member volunteers
were contacted and a Task Force has been established to review the current nomination process, submittal guidelines and awards and propose revisions in order to enhance and improve the program. The first meeting of the Task Force took place on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. The Task Force will start by reviewing the following three (3) awards: 1) the James William Kideney Gold Medal Award; 2) the Matthew W. DelGaudio Service Award; and 3) the AIANYS Firm Award.
Website Redesign | A meeting was held with a consultant
that specializes in website development for Associations to further understand the necessary steps that need to be taken in order to develop, produce and launch a successful Website Redesign. Next steps include a meeting with the Executive Vice President to further discuss a recommended approach with actionable and obtainable outcomes.
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In the interim, updates are being made to the existing website on a regular basis.
Emerging Professionals On April 9, the AIANYS Emerging Professionals hosted the 3rd Annual EP Forum virtually. We had representation from the following Chapters: Buffalo/WNY; Central NY; Southern NY; Eastern NY; Bronx; and Brooklyn. After an ice breaker – each attendee shared their “guilty pleasure” song that always gets them energized. We’ve created a Spotify playlist of these songs to share among the EP’s as a way to bring the group across the state together. The playlist can be listened to here: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3o5RLu3OxSueuerQeZ3gq2?si=7b3975f8eb55457f.
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The main focus of our afternoon was to break out into three groups to begin strategizing our main initiatives for 2021- Education, Mentorship, and Leadership. While each group was randomly selected, attendees may join whichever group they wish. Some thoughts that came out of the brief time together from the leadership group is the desire to host Leadership series in the fall. The Education and Mentorship had similar thoughts. They are looking at a more holistic approach. How can we be there early on to introduce young people to the field of architecture, and continue to work together with young students as they enter architecture school and eventually become Emerging Professionals themselves. As far as education for our current members, an emphasis on the business of architecture is an area to focus on this year. Based on our conversations surrounding leadership development, we will be taking this direction when we apply for the 2021 AIA College of Fellows Component Grant. We will be applying for funding to develop Leadership Development for EP’s later in the Fall of 2021.
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JUNE 2021 | PAGE 35
We also put out another episode of EP Architalk. In Honor of Women’s History Month, Talisha, a Superwoman of Architecture herself sat down with Graciela Carillo, AIA and Sara Jazayeri, AIA, both leaders in their industry and within the AIA. All Episodes can be heard wherever you listen to podcasts, or directly from out hosting site, https://www.buzzsprout. com/1494238 Lastly, in partnership with AIA’s Component Matching Scholarship Grant Program, we have been able to expand our Scholarship program beyond students enrolled in an NAAB accredited program. We have been offering scholarships to students enrolled in NAAB accredited schools in New York State through out Scholarship Program for almost 15 years, and we have come to recognize that the programs offered in the state’s Community Colleges are also providing an education to our future architects and there are many paths to licensure! This academic year, for the first time, we were able to offer a scholarship specifically to students enrolled in an architecture program in a New York State Community College. Bryana Andreu, with her project The Library Addition and Fernando Cruz with his project Union Wave Addition have each been selected to receive a $500 scholarship by our jury. Both students will be graduating from SUNY Orange. We look forward to expanding this program for the 2021-2022 Academic Year.
Education The spring season was very busy for education offerings. Members continued to take advantage of the Oldcastle APG bi-weekly webinar series that offered HSW/LU credits and were provided at no additional cost. Watch your emails for upcoming programs throughout the rest of the year. Five live interactive webinars were presented in April and May – “Returning to the Workplace: Considerations for Employers During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, “How Your Firm Can Work with DASNY on Small Projects”, “How to Think Like a Lawyer: A Practical Guide to Managing Risk” and two “Safety Assessment Programs” (SAP). Our knowledgeable and popular SAP instructors AIANYS President Illya Azaroff, FAIA and Past AIANYS Past President Tim Boyland, AIA made the transition from teaching a live event to a virtual one seamlessly. Their presentation style focuses on keeping participants engaged during the session and always encourages their involvement. Later this year, we will be presenting Basic Design by the 2020 Building Codes New York State by Laura M. Cooney, AIA in October and another round of SAP programs. April’s four-part Re-Imagining School Design: Adaptation & Transformation of Healthy Learning Environments webinar series was attended by more than 270 architects, facilities directors, manufacturers, speakers, and guests. In collaboration
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with AIA New Jersey, AIA Pennsylvania, and the New York State School Facilities Management Institute, it brought together over 20 international, national, and local subject matter experts to examine four relevant and important topics affecting pandemic and post-pandemic era school design - a global and local perspective on creating healthy, learning environments, what school design will look like in the future, looking beyond the hardware in creating safe schools and an open discussion on where we go from here. We want to extend our thanks to our speakers for their dedication to developing the content, the sponsors for supporting the program, and all the attendees who brought their energy, expertise, and questions to the series. The 2021 virtual Tri-State Conference scheduled for December 8-10 is our ongoing collaboration with AIA New Jersey and AIA Pennsylvania. Since 2011, the three states have combined their collective talents and resources to provide members an extraordinary professional training and networking opportunity. This year’s conference will be a virtual event offering enlightening keynote speakers, wide range of education topics, a virtual expo and the Tri-State Design Awards. Mark your calendar! We are always looking for innovative, cutting-edge topics for developing live, interactive programs. Please email to Mike Cocca, Director of Education & Marketing, firstname.lastname@example.org with any topics you would like us to consider. We value your input. All programs and registration links can be found on the AIANYS website here - https://www.aianys.org/calendar/.
Governance & Administration As 2020 closed out and we moved into 2021, AIANYS focused on its continual evaluation of both services to members and keeping costs at a realistic level for members having challenges in their firms. This has placed more importance on reaching goals for other non-dues revenue. AIANYS has risen to these challenges to create our events virtually and offer and increased level of education programs to the members. We have increased our marketing efforts, exceeded our goal for Allied Partners and found sponsors for our education programs. These initiatives help to reduce the costs of programming while providing a valued service to our members. AIANYS has maintained it’s strong financial position through April. The Budget & Finance Committee and AIANYS management have conducted a preliminary view of the 2022 budget to assess the new funds needed and will continue to assess funding needs as budget development continues through the year. We are hopeful for continued membership growth as the economy recovers based on growth of members in the first quarter. As new information and membership numbers become available during 2021, the 2022 budget forecasts will be adjusted to reassess funding needs and reviewed with the Budget & Finance Committee.
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JUNE ’21 ARCHITECTURE NEW YORK STATE is a quarterly publication developed by AIA New York State, 50 State Street, Albany, NY 12207
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