Planning & Design

There are many factors that influence the design of effective and efficient learning environments. Learn more about site selection and space planning; meeting the needs of urban, suburban and rural communities; historic preservation and adaptive reuse; accessibility, design guidelines, and more.


  • Facilities
    NC State University’s Talley Student Union

    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. 05/25/2020

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

    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. 05/18/2020

  • COVID-19
    Empty classroom. Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

    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) 05/13/2020

  • Reopening Schools
    A woman architect looking at blueprints with her laptop open.

    What Schools and Colleges Have to Rethink for Fall 2020

    The fall of 2020 will be different. Nobody knows for sure what it will look like, but most would agree that it will be different, which raises many questions for those of us involved in the construction and design of academic facilities. 05/01/2020

  • STEM
    The Berkner STEM Exploration Center features flexible and adaptable spaces.

    First Look: Berkner STEM Exploration Center

    When students return to school at Richardson Independent School District near Dallas, Texas, they will be able to utilize a brand-new state-of-the-art STEM facility that is open to all K-12 students in the district. Designed by Perkins and Will, the Berkner STEM Exploration Center was created for students of all ages. 04/01/2020

  • Expert Viewpoint
    4 Reasons to Build Choice into Classroom Design — and How to Make It Work for Students

    4 Reasons to Build Choice into Classroom Design — and How to Make It Work for Students

    Teaching and learning are undergoing significant transformation, but, by and large, the design of classrooms has not transformed at the same rate. Here are six key elements of a modern and highly engaging learning space that both supports and encourages 21st century learning: choice, comfort, versatility, connection, stimulation and technology. 04/01/2020

  • facilities
    Learning in Lounge Areas

    Extending the Classroom

    Learning is no longer restricted to the classroom or the library. Increasing the use and appeal of the space in between classrooms and other traditional learning environments can play a key role in teaching and learning. 03/30/2020

  • Interior Design
    Caption: Single leaf sliding doors support North Creek High School’s (NCHS) collaborative culture in Bothell, Washington. Credit: © Chris Eden /

    Collaborative Design Through the Lens of Interior Sliding Doors

    In Bothell, Washington, Dykeman, Inc. worked with the Northshore School District to create a flexible, innovative learning center for 1,600 students centered on collaboration. They incorporated state-of-the-art interior single leaf sliding doors and hardware into eight "collaboration cubes" to pave the way for project-based and problem-based group learning, without compromising design. 03/25/2020

  • Episode 2
    Schools In Focus Podcast logo and Todd Ferking, principal at DLR Group

    Schools In Focus Podcast: 2020 Education Design Trends

    In this episode, Todd Ferking of DLR Group talks about education design that is geared toward the future. 03/04/2020

  • facilities
    North Carolina School of Science and Math Morganton Greenway

    Master Planning the Outdoors: Spaces for the Life of a Campus

    Some common strategies and parallel considerations are at play in all master planning for the outdoors. Each campus must first be approached on its own terms, free of predispositions on planning. 03/02/2020

  • Planning & Design
    Pathfinder Kindergarten Center: photo ©Chris Roberts, courtesy of DLR Group

    K-12 Design Trends to Watch in 2020

    Just as Winston Churchill once said, “we shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us,” designers must consider how education environments of the next decade will shape student behavior. 02/26/2020

    Children using tools like a screwdriver to tinker with a robot on a table.

    Design Trends Influencing STEM Education

    Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are crucial parts of today's curriculum. When it comes to maximizing learning outcomes, many schools focus on the equipment and technology available. However, design also has a significant impact. 02/19/2020

  • Episode 1
    Spaces4Learning recently launched Schools In Focus, a podcast spotlighting K-12 school design, planning and management.

    Introducing Schools In Focus Podcast

    Spaces4Learning recently launched a podcast focused on K-12 school design, planning and management. 01/27/2020

  • Facilities
    Designing Faculty Spaces

    The Time Is Now to Create High-Performing Faculty Spaces

    Increasingly, leading institutions are recognizing that the time is now to focus on workspaces that allow their faculty members to perform research and other academic activities effectively while simultaneously nurturing meaningful relationships with their students. 11/21/2019

  • Facilities
    Laboratory Design

    Lab Design: Keeping People in Mind

    A people-centered focus of the design of lab spaces can encourage engagement and place more emphasis on the purpose of the lab, leading to success for the institution. 11/06/2019

  • Interiors
    adaptable educational space

    Preparing Students for an Unpredictable Future

    Creating an adaptable space is only one component of the agile classroom. What we teach and how we teach are just as important. 11/01/2019

  • Space Planning
    College students

    Optimizing Campus Space to Create a Better Student Experience

    Colleges and universities are rethinking the traditional use of space, taking innovative approaches, and using analytics and advanced scheduling technologies to optimize their existing resources. 10/07/2019

  • Facilities (Campus Spaces)

    Transforming Traditional Campus Buildings

    With careful planning and craft, architecturally significant buildings can take on new life through interior renovations that create up-to-date spaces while retaining historic integrity. 10/01/2019

  • reinventing learning

    A Roadmap for Reinventing Learning

  • Interiors
    Copenhagen school

    Designing with an Eye to the Future

  • Construction Methods
    storm shelter

    Winds of Change: Storm Shelter Design Guidance

    In recent years, the International Building Code has mandated that all new construction for K–12 schools in most of the Midwest and South Central United States include a community storm shelter. This article will explain the requirements of storm shelter design and explore best practices for planning and construction. 09/01/2019

  • Facilities (Campus Spaces)
    quiet spaces

    Shhh. How to Design Campus Quiet Spaces

    Students need space and time for quiet study, reflection, mediation, and stillness. Here’s a look at what goes into the design of quiet spaces in order to make them both welcoming and effective. 09/01/2019

  • Building Blueprints
    The Library of Today and the Future

    No More 'Shhhh!' The Library of Today and the Future

    Our culture has changed. Your community has changed. Has your library changed yet? 08/20/2019

  • Electrical Distribution: Designing the Campus Heartbeat

    Campus electrical distribution systems support all aspects of campus activity. Understanding the challenges for new and replacement installations is imperative for maintaining university operations and protecting capital investments. This article provides insight into identifying and addressing these challenges. 08/14/2019

  • Outdoor Spaces
    Harnessing the Potential of Outdoor Spaces

    Harnessing the Potential of Outdoor Spaces

    Enlisting students in your design plan and working alongside nature can result in outdoor spaces that are recreational, educational and engaging in ways you might not expect. 08/06/2019

  • lifelong learning

    Designing for Lifelong Learning Opportunities

    Are there similarities in the design of spaces for education and for senior living? Specific areas where the two intersect include creating spaces that foster lifelong learning, help people build communities and foster relationships, and combat the stigma of being either young or old. 07/29/2019

  • Expert Perspective
     Immersive Learning Environments: An Untapped Resource for Differentiated Learning

    Immersive Learning Environments: An Untapped Resource for Differentiated Learning

    As education principles continue to evolve, immersive learning environments offer an emerging and meaningful education tool. 07/23/2019

  • Reinventing the Academic Workplace

    A look at spaces that shape student-faculty interactions on campus, and ultimately contribute to student success. 07/16/2019

  • Spotlight On Maintaining Architectural Continuity

    Gabe Guilliams, IESNA, LEED-AP, a principal and regional discipline leader with BuroHappold, speaks with CP&M about how institutions can strike a balance between architectural continuity and creating effective learning spaces for today’s students. 07/15/2019

  • Looking Forward
    trends at collegs and universities

    Trends In Education

    Life's one constant is change and College Planning & Management is here for it. From the expansion of big data to plant-forward dining options, schools are adapting with the times. Here's a look at what's happening now and into the future. Is your school ready for what's next? 07/01/2019

  • Trends in Education: View From the Industry

    Look inside for commentary from experts in the field who share their perspective on trends in education and the effect those changes will have on various learning environments. 07/01/2019

  • Emerging Technology (Enhancing, Engaging, Connecting)
    AV technology

    AV Technology and Active Learning

    Audiovisual components are becoming integral tools in active learning spaces. 07/01/2019

  • trends at collegs and universities

    Trends: Key Developments Driving School Design

  • Facilities (Campus Spaces)
    campus landscape

    An Award-Winning Landscape

    Duke University has won awards for its campus landscape features and design. Careful planning and thoughtful implementation are just two keys to the university's success. 07/01/2019

  • Facilities (Campus Spaces)
    science lab

    Science on Display

    Creative design can solve the conflict between having an open research lab with natural light and views where passersby can see and be excited about the research being done and safeguarding sensitive or proprietary information. 07/01/2019

  • Trends

    View From the Industry

    Look inside for commentary from experts in the field who share their perspective on trends in education and the effect those changes will have on various learning environments. 07/01/2019

  • Shining a Light on Success in the Classroom: What Role Does Lighting Design Play in Student Outcomes?

  • Designed to Dine

    Student dining facilities are changing—and university officials need to be flexible and prepared. 06/04/2019

  • Rosen Concert Hall at the Hayes School of Music

    Performing Arts Facilities Planning: a Program-Based Approach

    Real-world installations illustrate how an in-depth review of existing performing arts curricula and facilities can be of benefit when considering how best to upgrade existing spaces versus when to build new facilities. 04/08/2019

  • Redrawing School Boundaries with Confidence

  • Stormwater Management

    An Integrated Approach to Stormwater Management

    Addressing stormwater controls early in facilities design and incorporating multiple solutions can yield cost savings and long-term benefits to a campus and its neighbors. 03/11/2019

  • Facility Focus (Historic Renovations)
    university of illinois

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Chemistry Annex

  • Facility Focus (Historic Renovations)
    military school at west point

    U.S. Military Academy at West Point: Pershing Barracks

  • Facilities (Learning Spaces)
    Organic Learning Environments

    Creating Organic Learning Environments Through Sustainable Design

    The structure and surrounding landscape can be active learning tools. 03/01/2019

  • Facilities (Learning Spaces)

    Authentic Experiences

    The key to engaging students in learning. 03/01/2019

  • Bringing 20th Century Education into the 21st Century: Why Technology, Flexible Learning Spaces and Maximizing Real Estate Are Becoming Non-Negotiables for Modern Schools

  • The Planning and Design of Workforce Development Centers

    Colleges and universities across the U.S. are creating workforce development centers to educate and train a new workforce. Programs frequently fall into two categories: industry-specific skilled trades training and automotive engineering training. 11/19/2018

  • Control Freaks: Optimizing School Mechanical Systems By Paying Attention

  • Dover High School

    Education Interiors

    The interior spaces where students’ high school careers and experiences unfold are of prime importance to those young people, faculty, staff, and administrators. The best such spaces help districts and individual schools express and realize their goals while guiding high school students toward achieving theirs. 11/01/2018

  • community space

    Design for Community Spaces

    Today's community colleges are interested in placemaking, in creating campuses where students learn, linger, and interact. With an eye to design, here are three examples of community colleges stepping up their interior spaces to improve the student experience. 11/01/2018