Tag Archives: design

Update: Lounge@JLS Middle School

What is special about this place, and the learning that happens in it?

The teacher’s lounge at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School serves multiple functions, few of which have anything to do with being  a “lounge”:

  1. 5 times a year, it serves as a thoroughfare between the indoor corridor (where ping-pong tables are stationed) and the “Cafetorium”, in which the school dance is held.
  2. Every day there are teachers using the copy machines it houses to prepare materials for teaching. They might come and use the fridge and microwave as well.
  3. Sometimes it serves as the venue for PTA meetings, during which coffee and bread are offered for participants to take away.
  4. There are big storage lockers for computer carts, which are accessed many times a day.
  5. If the staff working in the “Cafetorium” want to use the bathroom, they have to go through this space.

Apart from these functional activities, the only time the space is used for “learning” purposes is when teachers want to collaborate together but cannot find a meeting room elsewhere on the school campus.  Many of the teaching staff recently took part in a workshop at the d.school at Stanford in early January, and they seem to be keen on using design thinking in their teaching — it would be good if this space could be made to support their newly-acquired collaborative ethos.

What “aha”s or insights help to constrain your design?

  1. Since the room has high traffic (people coming in and out for copying, and computer carts coming in and out for usage and storage), furniture in the room should be easy to move. 
  2. Principal Ofek expressed her visions for the room in terms of adjectives: relaxing, comfortable, professional and collaborative.  These seem to suggest a space that is  relatively cozy, but also professionally productive.
  3. Principal Ofek also mentioned that many teachers, especially those who are younger and those who have their own  classrooms, rarely come to the lounge for downtime. Motivating teachers to come and collaborate is part of the challenge too.

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Learning Space: Middle school

Where we are in the process:

Where is your space?

Katie and I are considering redesigning a teachers lounge or a classroom at a middle school. We have a proposal for redesigning a flexible classroom at a middle school and are still exploring options to redesigning a teachers lounge. 

Who are the stakeholders who have an interest in your design, and how will you connect with them?

The stakeholders with direct interested in our design would include teachers and students. The design would also impact the administration and maintenance staff who would build the space and maintain it. We intend to connect with our stakeholders by interviewing them at the school where the design would be implemented. We would also visit other schools to benchmark similar learning spaces and talk to the people using them.

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Learning Space: Where we are in the process…

Where is your space?

Although we’re still deciding upon our location, I would ideally like to redesign a space in a middle school.  While teaching in a middle school, I realized how important the layout and design of a space is in contributing to the environment and culture of the school.  I am especially interested in spaces used by adults, and how these spaces can be used to ease some of the unnecessary burdens of teaching.  At my school, students had access to the faculty lounge, and we shared our classrooms with after school programs.  Sharing these spaces made it difficult to have conversations with adults, to take a quick break and eat, or just have some space to work.  I would be interested in creating a space that allows teachers to recharge, collaborate and converse with one another.

Who are the stakeholders who have an interest in your design, and how will you connect with them?

While still unsure of the project, there are many stakeholders when designing a space at a school.  The administration would certainly be involved, especially in identifying the cost and need for the space.  The janitorial staff should also be consulted regarding how the newly designed space will affect their jobs.  In addition, if the space involves teachers and/or students, they also should be accounted for in the design process, looking into how they may be negatively/positively affected by the changes.  Finally, it’s important to look at where the space is, in relation to the rest of the school.  If it is amongst classrooms, then it’s important to look at how neighboring rooms will be affected, and how it may upset the current flow of foot traffic. It’s important to empathize with the people who will be affected by the changes, and gather their input and opinions on how the space will best serve them and their needs.

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The Stairwell

Luke was kind enough to send us the “1,000 decisions” text from the stairwell, below.


follow the examples set by the main quad
design a building that adapts to changing needs
build a building that will be vital for the next 100 years
orient the buildings east to west so light reaches all the way through the building build arcades to help the building stay cooler in summer
install operable windows to reduce artificial climate control
harvest rainwater from the roof and quad
create activity areas that encourage people to meet outdoors
cultivate native and drought-tolerant plants
plant a lawn that requires minimal water
transplant coastal oaks instead of purchasing and transporting trees
transplant local olive trees
use recycled stone for seat walls
use recycled stone for bicycle parking
reuse lights from existing site
reuse existing benches
use light-tinted pavers that reflect heat rather than absorb it
use permeable pavers at tree locations to harvest rainfall and reduce irrigation
use pavers made with recycled content
use permeable crushed-stone paving to capture rainwater runoff naturally
use locally manufactured pavers to minimize transport and support local business reduce light pollution by pointing no lights at the night sky
use crushed-stone paving
build terraces at second and third levels for easy access to desirable outdoor rooms create shade with trellised local plants
cultivate plants at terraces for shade and cooling
extend balconies on the south face to create more desirable outdoor spaces
build a large roof overhang to create shade and reduce cooling needs
extend the windows to ceiling height to take full advantage of available light recess the windows to increase shade
install high-performance, low-energy glazing
install additional insulation for year-round energy efficiency
install a reflective white roof to reduce heat
install sun shades at windows to reduce heat and increase light harvesting
calibrate sunshades precisely
install interior light shelves at south facing windows
install operable windows
install windows that automatically respond to weather conditions by venting install transfer ducts throughout the building for natural ventilation
install daylighting transoms throughout building to increase natural light maximize transparency in the atria to harvest light and open up the space maximize views
locate labs at the lowest level to improve natural ventilation
install lockers to make running and biking more convenient
install showers
install bike parking

locate the building near public transportation
incorporate four atria in the building to optimize light harvesting and natural ventilation create vertical centers to harvest light
space atria no more than 60-80 feet apart for natural ventilation
shape atria apertures to increase daylight harvesting
use frit in skylight glass to reduce glare
extend atria all the way to lab foundation to bring natural light to the bottom floor install horizontal fire shutter to connect atria to lab foundation
locate common areas near atria to encourage collaboration
increase interior glazing around atria to facilitate visual communication
install actuated louvers in skylights for ventilation
install actuated windows in skylight for additional ventilation
eliminate mechanically assisted smoke evacuation
install weather station on roof so building can read and respond to changing conditions install four types of photovoltaics on roof to harvest energy and support research maximize recycled content in steel structure and decking
use local exterior precast panels to minimize transport and support local business
use fly ash in the concrete to reduce carbon dioxide emissions
use locally manufactured clay roof tiles
use salvaged redwood for exterior trellises
use sustainably-managed forest products for arcade ceiling
use rapidly renewable bamboo handrails at interior
use rapidly renewable materials for office furniture
use rapidly renewable materials for casework
use paint with no volatile organic compounds throughout interior
use carpet tiles with recycled content and no volatile organic compounds
use recycled content in ceiling systems
use vinyl-free rubber base at interior
reduce air-handling units at roof
install high efficiency air-handling units
reduce fan velocity at air-handler units
use high efficiency exhaust fans
reduce exhaust fan speed
install radiant-heat floor systems
install daylight sensors
install dimming controls for lighting
install occupancy sensors that turn lights on and off automatically
install carbon dioxide sensors to guage whether to cool building or provide ventilation install advanced measurement in five offices to measure building performance
use active chilled-beam technology for super-efficient heating and cooling
use natural ventilation
install ceiling fans
measure lighting power consumption floor by floor
meet fundamental building systems commissioning requirements
require additional building systems commissioning
select an environmentally responsible refrigerant

expose concrete floors for increase to minimize artificial heating and cooling use night flushing to cool building
install waterless urinals where possible
install dual flush toilets

install dual plumbing to use grey water when possible
install water reclamation system
accommodate and encourage individual, everyday recycling
set energy consumption goals for the entire quad and monitor them
establish the highest performance criteria and be responsible to them
employ adaptive comfort models for systems: calculate multiple building systems: loads and comfort metrics of what constitutes comfort in this building

employ life-cycle cost analyses in decision making
identify peoples’ disciplines to show how work is centered on projects, not departments use acoustical tiles in atria as murals that show the collaborative mission of Y2E2 install the most energy-efficient digital displays
establish a unified vision for building program and performance
engage users and the broader community to inform building design
program the building to encourage and support cross-disciplinary collaboration deliberately locate offices
optimize office size
create a lab foundation to bring natural daylight and ventilation into basement
make the building a teaching tool
support the building’s role as a hub for environmental teaching and research on campus design the building for the people who will use it
integrate the building and the campus to combine the best of the past and the future locate the building deliberately
decide if building belongs in the new quad
determine the building’s optimal size
determine how many people the building should accommodate and optimize occupancy determine the building’s occupants
determine the benefits of being located in the building
be sure to include a cafe
get advice from all the stakeholders
make the building’s design an open discussion
keep everybody informed
have lots of town hall meetings
determine the number of grad students per faculty
determine the number of faculty in the building
determine the size of each research program
determine how many visitors the building can accommodate
build a mezzanine to house office occupants more comfortably
bring natural daylight, ventilation and views into the basement
make people feel connected and part of a community
arrange offices according to focal area, not department

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Sound On

In previous weeks, we’ve had some interesting comments about the influence that sound can have on learning experiences in a space.  Check out some of these interesting resources, that use the magic of the web to serve up a pleasing medley of sounds for focused working:

http://soundrown.com/Coffee/ – Coffee shop sounds, rain, waves, and more

http://coffitivity.com/ – just the coffee shop

https://www.focusatwill.com/ – “Focus@will works by playing specific instrumental music tracks in a dynamically generated sequence that help soothe the limbic system (the fight or flight survival mechanism in the brain), so allowing you to concentrate more fully on what you are trying to do.”

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Technology First?

Today in class we talked about definitions of technology.  Some thoughts that came up in class:

  • Electronic
  • Digital
  • Tool
  • Hardware / Software
  • Augment human capacity
  • Idea (or is it?)
  • Virtual reality
  • snuggies / e-textiles

Some definitions of technology:

Which is first? Technology, or the need that it meets?  See Don Norman’s thoughts in his article on Technology First, Needs Last.

What do YOU think is a useful definition of technology?  How is a definition useful in informing our designs?


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Welcome!  Metaphors and Frameworks

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Connecting Thought and Environment

A favorite quote from Keith Basso’s (1997) Wisdom Sits in Places: “Incorporating places and their meanings into a compact model of mental and social development, [one theory of wisdom] proposes that the most estimable qualities of human minds – keen and unhurried reasoning, resistance to fear and anxiety, and suppression of emotions born of hostility and pride – come into being through extended reflections on symbolic dimensions of the physical environment.” (pg. 85)

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Design Proposal (June 4)

Design Proposal

At the end of the course, students will apply the ideas of this course to a real space. The design will involve a series of smaller deliverables. Design proposals will be presented to the class and to potential stakeholders for feedback on June 4 (please invite at least one stakeholder to be present for presentations).


  • 10 minute presentation, any effective media
  • Give overview of the larger context, and how this design challenge fits within it.
  • Who are you designing for?
  • What sort of activities does this space need to support?
  • What were the constraints of the project?
  • What would you propose if the budget were
    • Zero (only free/available resources)
    • Modest (amount depends on location)
    • Unlimited
  • How would you assess the success of the design (think learning)?
  • There will be time for questions and answers

Proposal should also be provided to stakeholders in a quality, stand-alone format, with representations of the big ideas, rationale, and budget included.  Most likely, this is best done as a report with attachments.

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Design Project Posts (weekly starting April 21)

Your turn!  One of the ways we learn is by applying the ideas discussed in class to a real-world project.  In this class, you will choose a real-world learning space and propose three redesigns, based on budget (no money, modest, and infinite budget).

You may reach out to any space that interests you, but we also have several interested parties who have mentioned that they would welcome a project. For example, you could design

  • a middle school staff lounge/workroom space,
  • shared informal learning space for doctoral students in MS&E,
  • a makerspace in Meyer with the idea of creating such a space in the renovated GSB South,
  • a group work ‘studio’ that could be used for a variety of project-based activities, such as video shoots.

The advantage of working on partner projects is that they facilitate access to stakeholders, and there’s a real chance some part of the design will be implemented.

Projects can be done alone or in pairs.  Each project will post updates to help us monitor and discuss your progress in developing these designs.  Please post these by Sunday night so that we can review them before class.

Sunday April 21: Where is your space? Who are the stakeholders who have an interest in your design, and how will you connect with them?

Sunday April 28: What is special about this place, and the learning that happens in it?  What “aha’s” or insights help to constrain your design?

Sunday May 5: Who are the learners? Post 1-3 personas that will help focus your efforts to meet their learning needs.  What special needs do they have that create a special point of view?

Sunday May 12: Post a storyboard of at least one interaction for a learner in this space.

Sunday May 19: List some of the assumptions you are making about the ways learners interact with this space.  Which of these could you explore through an experience prototype? How might that look?

Sunday May 26: How would you know if it’s working?  Describe an assessment plan, addressing the unit of analysis, intervention, observations/measures, and assessment context.

Sunday June 2: Share your designs with at least one stakeholder.  What was their response?

Questions?  Ask us!

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