Contract - March 2016 - (Page 18)
PHOTO: MEG WALTON
Considering Learning Environments Broadly
We may think of learning environments as strictly schools. But the
act of learning-and the need for research to improve our lives-goes
far beyond the traditional classroom. In this issue, we feature exemplary
interiors across the full spectrum of active learning environments,
from the classroom to the laboratory to the workplace.
The mysteries of the brain are being analyzed in the Allen
Institute for Brain Science, designed by Perkins+Will (page 52) in Seattle.
Spearheaded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the Allen Institute
takes an approach that is both Big Science-scientific progress focused
on large-scale projects-and Open Science-scientific research
and data made readily accessible to the public. The new building
by Perkins+Will allows a variety of scientists to conduct sophisticated
studies, to intermingle, and to be inspired in a big, open context.
Interiors were designed to carefully consider not only the actual
work of the scientists, but also how they interact and conduct their
interdisciplinary research in team settings. The Allen Institute
is an example of architecture and design influencing and enabling
the top research minds.
Today, the savvy education of young people requires a level
of entrepreneurship and unconventional methods. Teach for America,
which exists to empower teachers to pursue that goal, is a leadership
development organization whose mission is to "enlist, develop,
and mobilize as many as possible of our nation's most promising future
leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity
and excellence." The corps members commit to at least two years
of teaching in public or public charter K-12 schools in underserved
communities across the country. For the Teach for America
headquarters (page 68) in New York, HOK collaborated with
Pentagram to design a workplace in which corps members can meet,
strategize, receive training, or complete work at a variety of desks
or casual seating areas.
In the traditional sense of classroom-based education, this issue
highlights two unique examples of adaptations of existing buildings.
For the Little Red Elisabeth Irwin (LREI) High School in New York
(cover, and page 58), Andrew Bartle and his firm ABA Studio painstakingly
redefined the learning environment in a five-phase, seven-year project
akin to a puzzle. LREI's existing century-old school building was joined
to an adjacent townhouse from the 1840s, multiple new interiors were
crafted, and marvelous new outdoor spaces were created within
a landlocked urban site. A prime example of the ability of architecture
and design to transform, the various reconceived and new components
of LREI enable the school to further enhance its mission of providing
a progressive college prep curriculum in a campus atmosphere.
In an even more dramatic renewal, a former seminary has been
completely reconsidered as the University of Chicago Saieh Hall for
Economics (page 62). Ann Beha and her Boston-based firm Ann Beha
Architects designed a new home for one of the top economics schools
in the world, turning chapels into places for study and collaborative
problem solving. Here, similar to LREI, once outdated and outmoded
infrastructure has been made current, vital, and even innovative,
thanks to design. And that, indeed, is actually a sustainable solution.
The publisher of Contract, Emerald Expositions, has signed an
agreement to partner with the forestry sustainability organization,
Print Releaf, across all publications in the company. Print Releaf offers
publishers and other high-end paper-consuming businesses the ability
to certifiably reduce the environmental impact of using forest products
by automatically planting trees across a global network of reforestation
projects. Visit printreleaf.com to learn more.
For architecture and design firms that have completed recent
projects for a worthy cause, I encourage you to enter the work in
the Inspirations Awards. Sponsored by Tandus Centiva and presented
by Contract, the awards honor projects and practice initiatives that
are socially responsible. A $5,000 grant from Tandus Centiva will
be awarded to the client of the winner of the built project category.
The entry deadline is April 18. Visit inspirations.contractdesign.com
to learn more and to enter.
John Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA, Hon. IIDA
Editor in Chief
Visit contractdesign.com/editorial to read all of Editor in Chief
John Czarnecki's editorials
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract - March 2016
Contract - March 2016
Columnist: Strategic Services as a Tide to Lift All Boats
Product Focus: Mobile Learning
Knoll Houston Showroom
Allen Institute for Brain Science
Little Red Elisabeth Irwin School
University of Chicago Saieh Hall for Economics
Teach for America
Designers Select: Lighting
Installation: Shimmering Futures
Contract - March 2016