Features


Maintenance of a building

HVAC

4 Ways Schools Can Improve Indoor Air Quality to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission

A building’s HVAC technology can help decrease the transmission rate or mitigate the risk of exposure. Thus, schools must consider their HVAC system as part of their overall COVID-19 mitigation strategy, in addition to social distancing, cleaning, screening, signage and operational practices.

Flexible furniture to accommodate social distancing in a media center.

Media Centers

5 Ways to Redesign a Media Center During COVID-19

If the global pandemic sidelined your plans for creating a very inviting, collaborative, nurturing media center space, get your vision back on track with these five success tips.

Visioning workshops with district and community representatives help uncover concerns and goals. Photo: Courtesy of Finegold Alexander Architects.



Planning

CommUnity: Uniting Communities through School Design

At the onset of a project, the design team and the district must unite to develop the appropriate “Visioning Process” to gain input from teachers, administrators, parents, students, and members of the public. This typically takes the form of in-person workshops or on virtual platforms as we encountered this past spring. The architect can then use that feedback to develop a customized school design that meets the district’s goals and expectations.

Schools In Focus podcast logo and Belinda Oakley, CEO of Chartwells K12, and Seth Ferriell, CEO of SSC Services for Education.

Podcast

Schools In Focus: Food Service During a Pandemic

In this episode of Schools In Focus podcast, I speak to Belinda Oakley, CEO of Chartwells K12 and Seth Ferriell, CEO of SSC Services for Education, about school food service during a pandemic.

Walker Grant Center. OddBox Studios; courtesy of Rockfon

Acoustics

How the Right Acoustic Ceiling Can Improve a School's Performance

If there is not enough sound absorption in spaces for learning, they are overly loud, reverberant and stressful; not an environment conducive for effective education. Up to one of every four words cannot be understood by students in many classrooms, according to guidelines by the Acoustical Society of America.

Greta Thunberg speaking at a climate change protest in Rome.

Sustainability

Aspiration to Action: Gen Z’s Call for Change

Gen Z is advocating for immediate action to secure their future. However, limited by their age, Gen Z is looking to older generations to support them through social and legislative change and conscientious transformations — socially, educationally, and within the built-environment.

Full Facility Aerial From North Credit Paul Kennedy

Facility Focus: Northwestern University Walter Athletics Center and Ryan Fieldhouse

The complex itself, an impressive structure wrapped in glass, aluminum, and limestone on the northeast corner of the Northwestern campus, right on Lake Michigan—an enviable site not only for the dazzling lake view, but also for its proximity to the campus’ student residences, classrooms and other facilities.

Aerial photo of a building

HVAC

Using AI to Ensure Healthy Air In School Facilities

AI can change its instructions to your HVAC equipment based on the number of students in a room, the time of day, changes in weather throughout the day, and more, all while ensuring a comfortable environment for your building occupants.

Teacher disinfecting classroom desks.

Cleaning & Sanitizing

Are We Disinfecting Too Much?

Will a more methodical, well-thought-out approach be implemented for disinfectant use or, will they be once again randomly applied, essentially using a “hope for the best” mentality? Let’s hope application is not random, and here is why. In the U.S., disinfectants are considered “pesticides” by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and rightly so.

Schools In Focus Podcast logo and Stu Rothenberger

Episode 5

Schools In Focus: Rethinking Higher Ed Spaces

Stu Rothenberger, Principal at DLR Group, discusses flexibility on a campus scale, the need for long-term resiliency plans, tackling equity issues, and creating smaller interaction spaces in a post-COVID19 learning environment.



Student wearing a face mask stands in front of thermal imaging device.

Safety and Security

Why Now Is the Time for Schools to Re-Evaluate Safety Plans

Many of the CDC’s guidelines can be met through the use of technology, and schools should be investing in and implementing technology solutions that not only helps them adhere to CDC guidelines this fall, but bolsters their overall school safety now and in the future.

Student using her tablet at her desk. Two other students are in the background working at their desk.

Technology

Learning Space Design Plays a Key Role in Supporting Tech Use

What does it mean for a learning space to support the use of technology? It means the space has been intentionally designed to make it easy for teachers and students to seamlessly use any technology they might need, without having to disrupt a lesson or cut into valuable learning time.

Man speaking in a video conference.

Planning

How to Keep COVID-19 from Negatively Impacting Learning Space Design

Here are five ways that K-12 school districts can keep their learning space design projects on track in a world where social distancing rules and shutdowns interfere with normal operations.

A row of fitness equipment.

Maintenance and Operations

Keeping Campus Rec Areas and Equipment Clean During a Pandemic

As universities begin to welcome students back, directors of college recreational centers will need to develop plans, policies and protocols to maintain a safe and healthy environment. The many “moving parts” that make up college recreational center operations present some unique challenges for maintaining a safe and clean facility.

Meter ranging from green, yellow and red with the word "risk" underneath it with arrow pointing towards "high."

School Safety and Security: The Value of Knowing What You Don’t Know

School districts should conduct comprehensive threat vulnerability assessments that not only focus on existing measures already in place, but also encapsulate a thorough review of operational safety and security focused policies and procedures.

Worker on roof adjusting solar panels.

Six Key Factors for a Successful Solar Project

Several colleges and universities are pursuing solar solutions for two major reasons: to save money on energy costs and/or to meet sustainability goals through renewable energy projects. Whether you’re already pursuing a solar solution or just starting to consider your options, there are some important considerations to keep in mind, as well as certain factors that go into the most successful solar projects.

Rolling doors installed in cafeterias can keep schools safe during extreme weather.

Life Safety

Specifying for Extreme Weather Preparedness and Safety

The inclusion of storm shelters, safe rooms and best available refuge areas are steadily increasing, especially due to recent code changes in the heart of the United States. By specifying commercial rolling doors and shutters that meet strict wind load and flying projectile requirements, classroom pods, cafeterias and gymnasiums can maintain a welcoming appeal while able to transform into a safe space within seconds.

Examples of various signage for schools. Illustrations By Chelsea Lott, Graphic Designer (PBK)

Reopening Schools

Signs of The Times: Utilizing Graphics to Safely Transition Back to School

Overall, signage provides a cost-effective and direct solution to the question, “How does the coronavirus change our schools?” Signage plays a role in helping people feel comfortable in their environments and understanding what is expected of them in certain spaces.

theater renovation

Building Blueprints

Setting the Stage for Success

academic design and construction

Design-Build

Why Design-Build Merits Serious Consideration for Academic Design & Construction

The academic sector is the perfect use case for exploring how design-build is the best delivery system for mitigating risk, increasing the speed of delivery, lowering costs, and delivering great design – all through a simpler, more collaborative process.

sensory room

Sensory Rooms

Sensory Rooms May Help Ease the Anxiety Students Feel from COVID-19

The stimulating environment of a sensory room may heighten awareness, provide a sense of security and comfort, improve creativity, promote mental and physical relaxation, and even decrease aggressive behaviors.

proper distancing in schools

Rethinking School Spaces and Structures to Maintain Proper Distancing Amid COVID-19

When students finally return to school after months of learning from home, there will be dramatic changes. Even when K-12 leaders are allowed to reopen their facilities, doing so safely and responsibly will require everyone to maintain proper distancing while they’re at school, experts agree — at least until there is a working vaccine for the COVID-19 virus.

cooperative purchasing for schools

Procurement

Trends in Cooperative Purchasing

School districts see value in using cooperative purchasing entities as they get a steady, predictable pricing structure and supplier source.

Classroom with a variety of movable furniture and seats.

Furniture and Classroom Spaces

Versatility Is a Critical Design Element for Modern Learning Spaces — And COVID Reinforces This Idea

Even before COVID-19 forced K-12 leaders to rethink the design of school spaces, versatility was an important design element for classrooms and other instructional environments. Once life returns to normal, versatility will continue to be a critical design element.

Group of students seated next to each other.

Industry Spotlight

Q&A with the Editor: Tim Nyblom and Dave O’Driscoll, HID Global

We spoke to HID Global's Tim Nyblom, End User Business Manager - Higher Ed, and Dave O’Driscoll, Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives, about cloud and mobile technologies that will be important when universities reopen in the fall and in the next few years.

Austin Community College, Elgin Campus. Photo by Mark Menjivar.

Planning and Design

Design Considerations for Supporting Student Resiliency

How can higher education institutions incorporate student success in their resilience planning process as they consider future impacts on campuses? And how can design professionals use their knowledge and skills to support this effort?

Empty school hallway with yellow lockers.

Safety & Security

Gunfire Detection Systems Are More Important Than Ever in a World Impacted by COVID-19

To aid in a rapid response, innovative technology companies have developed powerful gunfire detection systems to greatly reduce the time required before a suspect is apprehended.

A woman student wearing a face mask looks at her phone while a few feet away a male student wearing a face mask looks at a book.

Reopening

Q&A with a Facility Services Expert: Protocols for Reopening Colleges and Universities

As colleges and universities make plans to reopen facilities in the fall, higher ed decision makers must consider a variety of issues while COVID-19 continues to spread in communities across the country. A facility services expert shares strategies and protocols used to ensure a healthy environment for students, faculty and staff.

Classroom with flexible furniture at West Rowan Elementary School.

Furniture

Five Tips for Creating a Vibrant, Modern Learning Space

Here are five tips that all K-12 schools can use to break out of the one-size-fits-all classroom furniture model and create modern, engaging spaces for 21st Century learners.

Classroom with agile furniture spaced at six feet apart.

Safely Reopening

How to Support Active Learning During a Pandemic

The design of the learning space will play a critical role in enabling active learning to occur in a responsible manner.

Elementary student taking notes and watching his teacher on an open laptop screen.

Technology

With E-Learning, School Districts Are Building the Foundation for Better Learning Outcomes

When the pandemic subsides, districts that haven’t already will likely take a closer look at e-learning and the skills and solutions that make it possible.

Child working on homework.

How to Overcome the "COVID Slide"

The COVID slide could exacerbate existing achievement gaps if K-12 leaders don’t take action. Here are four strategies that can help solve this challenge.

NC State University’s Talley Student Union

Facilities

Design for Post-Millennials: How Gen Z Is Shaping Higher Ed Spaces

They are the first generation to be immersed in technology since birth, experiencing it as an extension of daily life. As future Gen Zers progress through our learning institutions, their characteristics, wants and needs will further shape K-12 education environments, university campuses and future workplaces.

Elementary students in a classroom working at their desks.

Classroom Components

Comfort Is Critical for Student Success. Here Are 3 Simple Factors to Consider.

Why address comfort in the design of a learning space? When students are physically comfortable, they’re more at ease: They can relax, block out negative thoughts and focus more effectively on instruction.

Nurse taking the temperature of a student. Both are wearing face masks.

Reopening Schools

How School Nurses Are Critical in Back-to-School Planning Amid COVID-19

School nurses bring a broad set of skills and experience in the monitoring of student and staff wellness, and they’re a critical resource as K-12 leaders plan to reopen schools amid a global pandemic.

Young woman sitting at a desk looking at her laptop in a bedroom.

Student Housing

Out of the Cloud: The Future of Student Housing

Just as our homes have once again become the epicenters of our lives under quarantine — leading us to consider and re-evaluate their design — student housing facilities will likewise undergo massive changes in response to new hygiene concerns and lifestyle desires of students and their families.

Woman taking the temperature of a child who is wearing a face mask and a backpack with a contactless thermometer.

Reopening Schools

Here’s What Designers and Architects Anticipate Schools Will Look Like in the Fall and After COVID-19

We asked designers and architects from across the country what they anticipate classrooms will look like in the fall if they were to reopen, how the coronavirus will impact school design in the long-term, and suggestions on design concepts schools can implement right away to help with social distancing in facilities. Their answers offer insight to available design options and possibilities that can help school leaders plan and make the best decisions for their students and staff.

Empty classroom. Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

COVID-19

UPDATED: Resources for Educational Facilities During COVID-19

With COVID-19 changing the educational landscape each day, school and college decision makers need all the help they can get during this global crisis. Here are some resources on everything schools and colleges need to consider regarding educational facilities, construction, design and planning of new facilities, maintenance, managing employees and much more. (Updated 5/13)

Schools In Focus podcast logo. Robin Randall (R) and Sylvia Kowalk (L).

Episode 4

Schools In Focus: COVID-19 and the Impact on School Design

As schools across the country figure out how to safely reopen schools, we wonder: how will COVID-19 impact school design? Senior editor Yvonne Marquez discusses with Sylvia Kowalk and Robin Randall from Legat Architects on what changes we might see as schools reopen.