DesignShare E-Newsletter
October 2007
2007 Award Winners Released
DesignShare's New Team
V/S American Days 2007
E-newsletter Sponsors
Become a DesignShare Sponsor
E-newsletter Subscriptions

Click to view all the 2007 DesignShare award winners

DesignShare is so pleased to release the results of our 2007 International Awards Program. Special Thanks to all the Jurors. This was no easy task. Thanks for your commitment to the process. Also, Thank you Christian Long for coordinating a successful awards program. Thanks to Peter Brown, AIA for writing the final commentary about the 2007 Awards. Thanks to all our Sponsors for your commitment to DesignShare and school design.

And finally, thank you to all the submitters. You continue to raise the bar on school design. DesignShare's vision is to be the place for all things related to school design and facilities. Your willingness to share is essential to improving DesignShare and school design everywhere. We hope to see you back in 2008.

To Read the 2007 Commentary, go to

To Review the winners, go to

Best regards,
Tiffany Green
Director of Communications

You may have noticed some new names on the DesignShare Blog. DesignShare has some new team members that will keep the blog current and add some fresh perspective to the ever-growing DesignShare community. There is also a new team member working on the backend of DesignShare.

So, introducing the team:

Tiffany Green, an Educational Planner with Fielding Nair International and Director of Communications for DesignShare. I bring a social entrepreneurial spirit to DesignShare. I am the point person for all things related to DesignShare especially marketing and business development. You can reach me at

Tony Webster, a Web Designer and Programmer, budding photographer and full-time student. Tony is the DesignShare Web Administrator and he's also working on the programming for the newest version of DesignShare to launch late 2007. If you are missing a log-in or see something on your profile page that needs updating, please email

Jennifer Lamar is a Contributing Designer to the DesignShare Blog. She is an Associate Designer with Fielding Nair International. Jen strives to create spaces that reflect the community's values, needs, and functions. She believes color, light, and comfort are essential to productive environments and that spaces must be flexible to react to the ever-changing needs of the learning community. She also believes that learning should be fun and that the design should support active learning. With FNI, she has served as a design consultant on several projects including the three elementary schools in Medford, Oregon and the Georgetown Primary School in the Caymans. You can reach Jen at

Annalise Gehling is Contributing Educational Planner to the DesignShare blog. Annie is a Melbourne-based teacher, geographer and designer and serves as FNI's Associate Educational Planner. In this capacity, she plays an important support role on a number of high-profile Australian and New Zealand projects. She has also worked on several projects in the United States and the Cayman Islands. You can reach Annie at

To read more the team, go to

Jen and I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the 7th V/S American Days from September 22-26, 2007 in Tauberbischofsheim Germany (try saying that 5 times). V/S International is a Platinum sponsor for DesignShare. Their tagline is Ergonomic and Innovative Furniture Solutions for Educational Environments. The purpose of the American Days is to invite educational furniture dealers, designers and architects to Germany to see first hand how the furniture is made and their philosophy behind it. I have a whole new understanding of V/S and the incredible furniture they engineer and manufacture.

First, I want to thank V/S for their warm hospitality. It was my first trip to Europe so I was naturally a little nervous. Christine DeBrot from V/S Charlotte office was waiting for my group at the Frankfurt Airport. The rest of the trip was so enjoyable. We stayed at Hotel Victoria in Bad Mergentheim about 35km from Frankfurt. The weather was warm at 70°F. The networking was superb. The only worry we had was getting up on time to make the bus to V/S. Sleeping came early the next morning because you hang out at the bar after dinner.

The "bar" was a warm and comfortable space that felt like you were in a friend's kitchen with farm tables, tall windows on one side and open access to the commercial kitchen. Germany is such a warm, enchanting place. I appreciated the sustainable nature in which they live. The lifestyle seems very rderly, Quaint and Balanced. They took us to area of Frankonia for a tour of the Steinberg Winery, the best winery in Germany producing since the 1350s.

V/S offered four presentations for professional development:

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls
Michelle Sakayan, Sakayan Inc.
Jeremy Rose, Mashabane Rose Architects (The South African Architects)

Jeremy opened by describing the esthetic variety of South Africa and how that was integrated into the design of the school. His photos articulated the textural fabric of South African Culture.

Michelle shared her passionate commitment to the purpose of the Leadership Academy through the details within and throughout the structures... passive cooling, outdoor learning, the "feminine" depicted through curved walls and shadows. The 600-capacity theatre has a cable-net ceiling so students can adjust the lighting in a completely safe environment. I'm sure there will be some unbelievable plays to be had there once the school grows a bit. From 2004 through the completion of the school in December 2006, Jeremy Rose, Jonty Doke and Michelle Sakayan worked as a team to realize the 26 building campus and mission the of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy. They integrated the cultural identity of 10 ethnic groups. Their "bible" was to develop a school that was college prep, a home developed for girls (It's Oprah so that is code for opulent), promote individuality and culture.

Education Design Trends in the 21st Century
JCJ Architecture, Greg Smolley and Jim LaPosta

Greg and Jim laid out the challenges facing education in the 21st Century:

  • No Child Left Behind and the lack of accountability
  • Self-Determination
  • Business needing thinkers and not workers
  • Individuality
  • and the movement for Schools of Choice/Charter Schools

And answered the challenge with case studies of:

  • Non-traditional buildings
  • Schools as Centers of Community
  • Themed Learning Environments
  • Sustainable Schools

Sustainable Architecture
Stefan Behnisch, Principal Partner in Behnisch Architekten

Stefan explained sustainability to be "not using energy in a period of time that can not be renewed in the same period of time." The term sustainable was first used in 1712 in the forest industry where farms were restricted to the same land each year.

He shared a link to that promotes reducing building energy consumption by 50% by 2030 in order to mitigate the need for coal plants, the biggest culprit in global warming.

I also appreciated his visual description of architecture as an "orchestra." Sometimes the architects are the 1st violin and other times relegated to the last string.

His overarching themes were "Tune your own environments" and "technology tempered with passion" through the practice of reducing floor-to-floor height which increases the number of floors but allows more square feet for an atrium. Atriums offer light shaft, air return (shown to decrease staff sick days). He showed a fantastic case study of an alternative to HVAC through the creation of a winter garden with natural ventilation. Birds and insects naturally migrate in and create an oasis in an otherwise urban environment.

School Dynamics: Ergo-Dynamic concept for holistic learning
Dr. Dieter Breithecker, Dr.Phil., M.A., Federal Institute on the Development of Posture and Exercise

Dr. "D" as he is fondly called, his presentation on the Ergo-Dynamic concept for holistic learning, was engaging and active. Through seemingly simple movements, we learned to identify our sensory systems and better comprehend the staggering obstacles we place in the way of our children's natural development.

The V/S Campus was beautiful. The factory tours gave me an appreciation for not only the furniture and engineering but how the company takes care of its employees. The company is the major employer of Tauberbischofsheim and surrounding villages.

The V/S Showroom for both Office and Educational were superbly designed to show off their ideals of ergodynamics and work environments that promote well-being. I was especially drawn to their adjustable height work surfaces, engineered to be comfortable and promote dynamic body postures. Their office products are beautiful enough for your home and ideal for a loft/open concept work space.

The acoustic studio showed how changes to furnishing materials that absorb sound quiet a small space considerably where a up to three people might be working and talking without interrupting the others.

The Learning Studio was outfitted with variety of furniture that can easily be re arranged and a Prometheus Smart board and the V/S sliding board system. I was impressed with the intuitiveness of the smartboard and the sliding system means its can be used at different levels and in different places in the room.

I have two videos from within the learning studio. One shows in 90 how two people can transform the room into 4 separate learning areas. The 2nd video shows the Prometheus Smart board demonstration. If you aren't able to view the videos, click the link to be taken to the Vimeo site.

V/S Learning Studio - 90 Second Room Change from DesignShare on Vimeo.

V/S Learning Studio - Prometheus Smart Board from DesignShare on Vimeo.

V/S School Furniture Museum Welcome by Dr. Muller from DesignShare on Vimeo.

A great treat was the V/S Museum of School Furniture. It is a must see. Jen and I wandered back to the museum on our third day during lunch. Dr. Muller was nice enough to open the door for us and let us get a second walk through. . There was so much to learn. The museum was just renovated adding English explanations and a new layout even down to the last minute before we arrived at the headquarters. I look forward to the Museum book comes out in English. I was told that would take about six months. Here is a video of Dr. Muller welcoming us and giving an explanation about the museum and the history of school furniture.

Overall, if you have an opportunity to attend a future V/S American Days, I would highly recommend it.


VS' history goes back to the late 1800's as the first company to provide comprehensively designed school furniture. Their dedication to ergonomics applies to every type of workplace - be it in the school or office. The entire VS product development is based on expertise in ergonomic principles to support dynamic work, collaboration, and study environments.

In particular, VS offers the PantoMove, the ultimate ergonomic classroom chair.

Its 3-D rocking mechanism allows for movement in all directions. Easy height adjustment makes this chair the perfect fit for k-12 students.

General Info Email:

C/S GROUP (Construction Specialties, Inc.) is committed to design innovation and the improvement of educational environments. C/S manufactures impact-resistant wall covering and wall protection products, entrance-flooring systems, expansion joint covers and daylight management products for schools. With more than 70 registered patents, C/S is skilled in listening to architects and developing innovative new products to meet their projects' specific requirements.

Complete Design Manual is available at (888) 621-3344.
Download product drawings directly from the C/S Web site.

The School Building Expo is the industry event for people responsible for the construction and renovation of K-12 and Higher Education school facilities. The 2007 Expo took place from March 6-8 in West Palm Beach, Florida. Next year's Expo will take place in April, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.

Along with showcasing the first-ever "DesignShare Expert Bar", the Expo is a showcase of everything needed to create both the building envelope and the unique interior needs of schools and universities. From walls and floors to security and comfort systems, School Building Expo is the one place to see everything it takes to build a successful school facility.

The conference is a world-class program offering practical learning, the chance to exchange best practices, and earn up to 16 AIA-approved CEU learning units for architects to meet continuing education requirements. Expo features leading architects and school speakers, keynotes, workshops, and school tours. The focus is on practical, how-to information you can use on the projects you're working on now.

At this year's event, the American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture in Education held its Spring meeting at the School Building Expo. AIA CAE also announced the winners of their annual architecture awards at School Building Expo.

For more information about participating as a sponsor, speaker, vendor, or participant in 2008, contact School Building Expo President Scott Goldman at 800.746.9646 x102, email him at or review the 2007 event at the official conference web site.

MediaSnackers is a strategic consulting firm unifying youth initiatives and corportate organizations in the exploration of new media/technology. Starting out as an organization passionate about how young people consume and create media across the globe, the team?s expertise focuses on empowering young people and learners of all ages throughthe emergence of new technologies. With a global-view and a passion for learning (enabling others through exclusive new media training), MediaSnackers explores the impact the technology-rich landscape and always-on generation is having and going to have on the future of education.

In addition to hosting and participating in a wide array of international youth, technology, and education conferences, the MediaSnackers group hosts a widely subscribed report/blog, podcasts, and vodcasts that explore the new youth-created media projects around the world. The team grew out of UK-based Phatgnat, a consulting/research firm well-known for an exclusive annual research project exploring the motivating factors behind young peoples purchasing decisions and if a brand's community activities has an influence on the youth demographic.

MediaSnacker works with the BBC and a host of UK/European organizations passionate about emerging trends in the youth sector. Contact DK to inquire about opportunities to tap into the MediaSnackers network.


If you want to get 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, DesignShare gets nearly 2 million visits a year (150,000 visits each month), more than doubling where we were just a year ago.


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