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Designing the ultimate student experience

Students need a space to think outside boundaries, a community to grow and be creative in, and a meaningful way to connect with the world...

We design innovative learning environments that give students, faculty, administrators and their communities the spaces they need to learn, grow, and succeed. Through global design, intuitive planning, and local support, we help you create the ultimate student experience.

  • #1
    A/E Firm, BD+C, 2016
  • 62
    years designing for education
  • #5
    Top Univ Architect (BD+C ‘16)
  • #1
    K-12 Design (Arch Record ‘15)


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Designing schools in remote Alaska

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<p>My name is Dale Smythe I'm a project architect and project manager for Stantec in our Anchorage office.</p> <p>For the last 10 years, I've had the privilege of working on some of our rural Alaska schools. These are projects in Yupik Alaska villages in western Alaska.</p> <p>Getting to these sites takes a lot of steps. [00:02:00] It really can't be done in a day trip typically. We're leaving Anchorage early in the morning on a twin engine prop plane, a couple hours in the air, then land out of the hub communities Bethel or Dillingham, several thousand people. Then, a single engine prop plane to a gravel runway where you unload your gear that you travel with, and then typically take a 4-wheeler ride over to the school site, to the project site.</p> <p>These are K through 12 schools. They actually are really the community center of these villages. They serve as much more than just the school.</p> <p>Through working in this part of Alaska, probably had the chance to visit nearly 20 villages, worked in half a dozen of them on major projects and more on minor things. it gives me this inspiration for self-sufficiency and an understanding of your environment, and survival not through fighting it but survival through harmony with your surroundings.</p>

How can we support learning when class is over?

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<p>Lee:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; If students really do learn only a small part of what they learn in class, what is the university doing to build environments that support learning when class is over?</p> <p>Janice:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; Majority of libraries are filled with books and stacks and more static space. This library is completely flipped on its head.</p> <p>Tod:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; A lot of the ambitions for this building were about it not being, “This is what’s going to happen in this building.”</p> <p>Lee:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; I used the Great European train stations as a model of people coming into a space and seeing many destinations on the board. To me that was very nostalgic to the journey of a student when they’re on their own learning and as we dived more deeply into what a model like that might look like. We started out with one kind of off the wall idea I brought with me and then we deepened that into something that turned into this. It was an amazing experience of collaboration.</p> <p>Tod:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; This notion of activity and vibrancy and gleaning knowledge and, “What does that look like?”</p> <p>Lee:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; What kind of building and space did that call for? That if we accepted that the dream was a good dream, the ideas were good, but there was no model. There was no other library that was doing this so we couldn’t go somewhere and see how it was already done.</p> <p>Tod:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We would draw and she would say, “No, I want to see book bags and I want to see pajamas.” Because that’s really what she was in her head. She really saw that this thing was a part of their campus. When we understood those really subtle things it was able to unfold a place for people to lean back.</p> <p>Lee:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; It was amazing to me how [00:02:00] it worked. It was a leap of faith at the beginning there’s just no question. On their part and on ours, I think. It took both of us to get to this building.</p> <p>Thomas:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We wanted to create place and space that took into account the changing dynamics of the learning environment. We wanted to create a space that had technology at its core but also a space that would use technology to create the relationships between students and faculty and staff.</p> <p>Lee:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We tried to align the actual environment of the academic library with the kind of environment people choose in all the other walks of their life. We’ve tried to build a whole matrix here where the students can literally tailor this environment to what they need at the moment. And it can accommodate and include all of the habits and the devices that they use to organize their life all the rest of the time. I think that’s the biggest change we’ve made. Noise here is not forbidden. We have quiet places but we have places that are not quiet at all. We let the students sort themselves out around those different spectra and I think that’s going to be a very successful model.</p> <p>James:&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; We decided to place this structure right in the middle of a pedestrian diagonal that existed on campus. You cannot walk around this building. You can but you can’t ignore it as you walk past it. You can walk through it.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>


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