DesignShare E-Newsletter, October 2011

Learning Beyond the Classroom

Where exactly does a 21st century education happen? The traditional classroom seems too small and rigid to support the multiple learning modalities students must practice to succeed today.

And how can the community become more integrated in education? Expensive resources like gyms and libraries might be shared as partnerships, and schools designed for more community involvement.

These compelling questions are explored in this e-newsletter issue. If you have any comments or additional relevant material, please contact us at DesignShare to continue this dialogue.

Related Links:

DesignShare Website

Newsletter Archives


School & College Building Expo

The Language of School Design

National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities

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Commentary by Praksh Nair:

Education Week Logo

The Classroom Is Obsolete: It’s Time for Something New

The overwhelming majority of the nearly 76 million students in America’s schools and colleges spend most of the academic day in classrooms. That’s a problem because the classroom has been obsolete for several decades. That’s not just my opinion. It’s established science.

Click here to download the full article.

Click here to read online.

Two New Medford Schools by FNI: the Video

Medford: Video Shot

Jackson Elementary School, Medford, Oregon

This video shows two new schools by FNI, in association with Opsis Architecture, designed for community engagement within a central commons and in learning communities as well. These are spaces for volunteers to come in and help, so groups like the Grandparents Reading Program can assist teachers in implementing individualized reading programs. Integrating community volunteers enables even financially challenged districts to provide a quality 21st century education to their students.

Link to video here.

Design for Change Wins INDEX Award

TFE logo

27 countries competed to take home the world’s biggest design prize, as the winners of the world’s largest – and perhaps the most important – design award, the Danish INDEX: Award, were unveiled at a spectacular award ceremony in the Copenhagen Opera attended by HRH The Crown Prince and HRH The Crown Princess of Denmark along with 1,200 official guests from 48 countries.

In the WORK Category, the winner is Design for Change from India – a design based school competition designed to give children an opportunity to express their own ideas for a better world and put them into action.

More here!

Transforming Schools for the 21st Century


Students working with technology in a blended learning environment.

By Dr. Joanne Hopper and James Seaman

The term “21st century learning” is used frequently to represent the current approach to educational reform. The term generally describes education that is among many things learner-centered, inquiry-based, technology-rich, interdisciplinary, collaborative, and personalized. Many of these concepts however, are not new. These approaches to learning are rooted in constructivist theory which was formalized in the early part of the 20th century. So why do we need 21st century learning now?

Find out here.

Designed to Curb Obesity


Hillel Elementary School, Tampa, Florida

by Sarat Pratapchandran

In recent years, promoting sustainable design has at times taken away from the emphasis on obesity affecting school children. According to one school designer, “We live in a sedentary society, and it is time to get aggressive about this subject.” Traditional school design has focused on creating a “culture of convenience” that minimizes travel times between classes. In a scramble to accommodate schedules, facilities were designed in tight-knit spaces that hindered any physical movement among children.

Article continues here.

Billings SD2 workshop focuses on a (modified) future


The President of Fielding Nair International, Prakash Nair, told the crowd gathered in Billings, Montana - mostly comprised of the general public but also populated with city and school board officials - that the schools should be viewed as more than a building focused on education during a school day.

“Schools are not for children anymore,” said Nair. “They are community facilities, they need to be for everyone in the community. They're valuable aspects, they have significant impact on your economy, they have a significant impact on your property value and they have a huge ability to build community spirit.”

Article and video here.

A Novel Way to Promote Change Agency

Angel Park Cover

In ANGEL PARK, a novel about school reform that centers on the mystery surrounding the death of a school official, the characters’ lives and attitudes are shaped by the buildings that contain them. Despite its attempt at modernity, the school district reveals its real story at the ringing of each bell when “the pressure of all the classroom doors shutting simultaneously” allows students to be “vacuum-sealed into each tiny micro-climate.” Thus, the educational spaces embody and perpetuate the sense of isolation and disconnection that still permeates the traditional school system, despite a century of human progress in the outside world.

The author, Patricia Kokinos, a veteran teacher and school and district administrator in both California and New York, saw these buildings and the fictionalized but true events of the story as a microcosm of the issues of school reform. She offers the unique perspective of fiction to give readers an emotional sense of the forces, both human and societal, that stifle change and the deep beliefs we may have to uproot to make some changes that count.  ANGEL PARK is available on Amazon, and more about its awards and reviews can be found on the author’s school reform website,



PLDC is a Global Lighting Design Convention for lighting professionals worldwide, organized by VIA Publishing for the international magazine Professional Lighting Design in cooperation with the Professional Lighting Designers' Association, PLDA and supported by the Asociación de Disenadores de Iluminación, APDI.

The conference is built around four parallel tracks on Lighting Application Case Studies, Lighting Application Research, Exterior Lighting Solutions and Professional Practice Issues.

Be part of the lighting design community - be part of PLDC 2011!

Mark the dates: 19. to 22. October, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.



Wiley has recently published four books for architects and designers of K-12 schools. All written by experts on the design of schools, together, these four books comprise the most comprehensive and up-to-date information on school design. Please visit to learn more about our books on the architectural design of schools.


Fielding Nair International designs school facilities for today and tomorrow with one primary goal in mind — to improve learning. With consultations in 29 countries on 5 continents, dozens of important publications, and numerous industry awards for excellence, FNI is the global leader for innovative school architecture. Underlying all the architectural design, planning and educational change management work they do is a strong belief in diversity, high performance, technology infusion, global connections and personalization. Web:


School & College Building Expo is the only event that truly brings together the evolving marketplace of educational institutions. Learn about sustainable and green trends, be inspired by exciting keynotes, and discover the latest products and solutions. Come together with the professionals who plan, design, construct, retrofit and manage public and private educational facilities. School & College Building Expo is host to the Spring Meeting of AIA's Committee on Architecture for Education, a gathering of the most active thought leaders in educational design.


If you want to get the word out to the school planning and design community, there is no better venue. DesignShare is the #1 address worldwide for innovative school facilities and designing for the future of learning. Today, the DesignShare web site gets nearly 2 million visits a year, and the e-newsletter reaches over 7,000 subscribers.

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