Programs & Events

Previous Conferences & Symposia > 2014 Annual Conference

Monday Session Presentations

Monday, October 6, 2014     11:30 am – 12:30 pm

Redesigning the School Lunch Experience

Stephen Murakami, Director of Planning and Construction, Tacoma Public Schools Dina Sorensen Assoc AIA, Project Designer, VMDO Architects
Chef Tom French, Executive Director, Experience Food Project

"Creating school food environments that facilitate healthy eating among children is a recommended national strategy to prevent and reduce childhood obesity ... School design can affect student behavior, development, and academic performance. Food displays and time allotment for school meals can also affect children's eating behavior. A recent evaluation of a system-level healthy eating initiative in 4 California schools showed that changes in dining room design and features may have contributed to positive outcomes such as increased nutrition and knowledge of the food environment, preference for fruits and vegetables, and higher in-school and out-of-school fruit and vegetable consumption.

Interest is growing in how the physical design of school buildings (ie, architecture, interior design, and landscaping) affects school policies and practices and the subsequent eating behaviors and norms among children. Systematic theory- and evidence-based design strategies drawn from both public health and architecture are needed to define, test, and further develop best practices."

Huang TT, Sorensen D, Davis S, Frerichs L, Brittin J, Celentano J, et al. Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture. Prev Chronic Dis 2013;10:120084. DOI: Web Site Icon.

This session will explore the current landscape of initiatives, top down and bottom up, which strive to meet the challenge of reducing childhood obesity through the design, operations and curriculum integration.


  • Understand the impacts of rising rates of childhood obesity in America today
  • Investigate current initiatives within the school environment which endeavor to improve the health outcomes of our children
  • Uncover the institutional, legal and cultural obstacles which exist
  • Share a platform for research and collaboration to move our collective work forward

Transforming a 30 Year Old High School for 30 More Years

Vandana Nayak, SHW Group LLP
Nancy F. James, McKinney ISD

McKinney ISD's existing 1980's high school was designed exclusively for the stand and deliver model of teaching. This once innovative high school incorporated Voc Ag programs along with fine arts, athletics and a natatorium. As times have changed, there became a need to change the existing high school to allow for new teaching and learning styles of the 21st Century and to accommodate the projected high school growth. Together with McKinney ISD, SHW Group set out to create a thoughtful transformation of McKinney High that empowers the students to adapt to new learning opportunities and help prepare each student for global community. SHW Group and McKinney ISD started by defining the vision for this transformation and then set goals for McKinney High. These efforts were followed by creating spaces that supported the cultural transformation envisioned for the high school. The challenge of adding 750 students, specific CTE programs, fine arts expansion, athletic expansion, and an overarching need to create meaningful engagement for each high school student, gave SHW the opportunity to explore conceptual student arrangement options with McKinney ISD. The study presented the pros and cons of arranging student populations in departmental houses or in small learning communities. Particular emphasis was paid on exploring varying degrees of integrated grade level houses and small learning communities. Options with and without media services helped determine the client's innovation scale for charting their future direction for learning and teaching. The exterior and interior of the building was modified to create a new image to reflect the school's vision and to allow for flexibility and innovation in operation. Comprehensive safety, security, and systems upgrades were also incorporated to increase operations efficiency, energy usage reduction, and improved user comfort. Join us to learn more about the option chosen by McKinney ISD to create small learning communities in its existing comprehensive high school and how this addition/renovation project allowed us to create a modern, student centric environment that supports 21st century learning.


  • How to transform a older high school to accommodate 21 century learning
  • Different student arrangement options for a comprehensive high school
  • Process of Planning
  • Change in instruction's effect on facilities

School Security: the Approach at Sandy Hook School

Julia McFadden, Svigals + Partners
Philip A. Santore, Ducibella Venter & Santore

In recent years, a rash of deadly violence in our nations' schools have thrust educational security into the daily conversation, both within and outside of the professional security industry. Opinions on the subject range from a hands-off approach to tactical preparation and response. Is there a balance to be struck? How can we work to generate pragmatic and meaningful standards and best practices? For new schools that are being designed with security in mind, what is the latest thinking on how to create a secure learning environment without impacting the educational mission? This session focuses on preventing a malicious event from ever happening – not responding to one that already has. This panel session is comprised of members of the design team for the new Sandy Hook School in Newtown, CT, and the Newtown school district's security team.


  • Identify school security stakeholders and the importance of their role in ensuring that the educational mission is not compromised.
  • Discuss and debate architectural design parameters for new schools – i.e., bullet/force resistant materials and construction, visitor processing, etc.
  • Outline various constraints when it comes to educational security, including tight budgets, limited manpower, and opinionated stakeholders
  • Discuss the role of technology in securing schools, particularly given the most common levels of dedicated school security staffing and budget.

View presentation [884 KB]

Rethinking the Big Box: Adaptive Re-use for Schools

Susan Baker, AIA, LEED AP, LS3P

School districts and higher education leaders across the country continue to struggle with the means of providing adequate school facilities for their students. Budget cut-backs, aging school buildings, growing enrollment in some communities, and lack of affordable land are all major issues to be faced. As much as the community may want to build new facilities, the resources are not always available to make it happen. However, the goal of providing effective and inspiring environments which support learning for students and teachers remains a constant. At the same time, communities are faced with the results of the economic downturn – many retailers have had to shut down their operations. Many who made it through the recession have vacated existing facilities and rebuilt larger stores. We now have a landscape littered with empty-big box stores. These so called "ghost boxes" are typically poorly maintained, often with distant property owners who are not invested in keeping them up. They make an ugly mark on the community as a visible sign of economic decline and disinvestment. They become a target for vandals and other undesirable activities. They often sit vacant for many years and the longer the space is empty, the more in negatively it impacts the surrounding community. At the intersection of these problems we see a significant opportunity: what if you could reuse, recycle and restore an old building and site and transform it into an attractive and effective center for learning within an established community? This presentation explores the social, economic and environmental advantages of renovating existing facilities through a series of innovative case studies and examples, and provides practical design strategies for transformation.


  • Taking social, economic, and environmental perspectives into account, participants will be able to identify and define the various parameters and requirements in converting a big-box store facility into a new school facility and discuss the various positions.
  • Participants will discover how an existing site infrastructure for a big-box store may be beneficial in the overall cost and construction schedule if it were to be converted to a new school.
  • Working with the existing structure of a former big-box store facility, participants will be able to redesign and incorporate a new school facility utilizing the existing space with the addition of security provisions and including various daylighting practices.
  • Participants will be able to demonstrate the benefits of designing one facility to cohesively meet the needs and amenities required by both the students of a school and the citizens of a community. They will understand that designing a facility such as this may also display the benefit of multiple users sharing in the expenses for the construction, operating costs and maintenance of the facility.

View presentation [3.9 MB]
View presentation [424 KB]

Joplin: Rebuilding a Community – Reinventing Education

Dr. Angie Besendorfer, Chancellor of Western Governor's University, Former Assistant Superintendent of Joplin School District
Kirk Horner, AIA, Hollis + Miller Architects
Scott Barton, Hollis + Miller Architects

Educating today's students goes beyond the traditional classroom. As architects today, it is critical to work closely with educators to understand their needs for the students with whom they work and educate. It is more than just teaching in today's society. We have to learn and be able to think strategically to learn what has not yet been discovered. On May 22, 2011, Joplin experienced the worst tornado disaster on record to date in the United States. A class f-5 tornado hit the city on a Sunday evening and their future changed forever. Under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. C.J. Huff, Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer and the administration team and school board members, they grouped together to first make sure their district family was safe and to locate all students and staff. Unfortunately, there was loss of life. The district, the community, the state and the country embraced the resolve of this small Midwestern town that made a bold statement that school would open and Joplin School District would be a model school district for not only the recovery process, but it would model a new paradigm shift on how education would be delivered to its students.


  • Merging planning and educational vision
  • Brain-based learning modalities
  • Integration of flexible/mobile furniture into the overall design
  • Seamless technology integrated into planning

View presentation [5.7 MB]

The Collaboratorium: Designing Problem-Solving Spaces for Learning and Investigation

Gregory Louviere, PBK
Richard Chi, PBK

According to Karl Popper, "all life is problem solving." As we might all agree to this as fact of life. If so, then why do we not emphasis problem-solving skills in our schools? The ability to problem-solve is of ever increasing importance in the 21st Century, and as such is considered by numerous educators, organizations, agencies and businesses to be the prime factors creating future opportunities for today's students in whatever their endeavors. In a research survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges and Universities, nearly all those employers surveyed (93%) agree, "a candidate's demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than their undergraduate major." However, in a 2013 survey conducted by Gallup, few college or high school graduates are achieving problem-solving skills in their educational background. What is the solution to this problem?

This session focuses on the interjection of problem-solving into the learning environment, establishing the Collaboratory as an engine for creative decision-making within a collaborative setting. Of the numerous problem-solving methods available, this presentation examines solution-based "design thinking" in the learning context. Through research and case studies, the presentation will delve into the spatial features that successfully foster a problem-solving learning environment. In recent years, many institutions have created Colaboratories, including the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Innovation Lab, and Stanford d:school. The purpose of which is to investigate problems such as climate change, health care, sustainability, economic globalization, learning equity, business growth and entrepreneurship. This presentation will explain the reasons why the problem-solving environment of a Collaboratory can become a learning opportunity in K-12 applications and the reason for its proliferation among corporations, organizations and institutions.


  • Designing Learning and Investigative Spaces
  • "Design Thinking" strategies
  • Organizational employment of collaboratorium spaces
  • Criteria for designing a Collaboratorium

View presentation [3.8 MB]

Using the Before You've Got to Get the After You Want: Benchmarking Existing School Conditions

William Orr, The Collaborative for High Performance Schools
Mike Dieterich, Mckissack and Mckissack, for DGS-DCPEP

Benchmarking and performance monitoring often solely focus on the energy use of buildings. But for schools, performance goes beyond the energy bill to include the performance of the students and staff. How can we measure everything that makes a learning environment good for learning? Understanding the total performance of your school buildings will allow you to set goals to improve health and comfort outcomes as you make cost-saving energy efficiency improvements. This session covers strategies on whole building and energy benchmarking, including the CHPS Operations Report Card and US EPA's ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, best practices for measuring health and comfort conditions in your classrooms, and case studies of how to use environmental outcomes to drive campus improvements. We'll also explore an in-depth case study of one large urban school district that is using benchmarking to drive their capital improvements process.


  • How environmental conditions effect student performance and learning
  • Best practices on benchmarking key environmental characteristics
  • How to plan improvements based on non-energy benefits