Design and the library

Tomorrow I’m meeting with the architects to work on our new library design.  I’m starting to feel a little anxious as we move out of the imagination stage and into the design going on paper stage.  This project is one I have been envisioning for so long, yet it’s kind of daunting to actually think about the entire space being gutted and redesigned.

I’ve been trying to guide the design with the principles of web 2.0, of a collaborative, student oriented space,  and also “future proof” our space as much as possible.  Tonight I was reading a fascinating article on the Design Share website by Chris Lehmann of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia about the process he went through as principal in designing a “School 2.0” space at SLA.

I love the question he poses:

  • What happens when a design idea becomes an educational idea?

He concludes that the design of the building can and should serve the pedagogy, but comments:

“What was frightening to me was, even with that idea in hand and a lot of experience with progressive curricular design, I had little idea how to make that idea come to life in the physical spaces of the building.”

I’m thankful for discovering this article tonight because I am also feeling the panic and fear he mentions in it;  I know the decisions we make for the library will be part of our campus and part of how the space “works” for the school for a very long time.

But it’s reassuring to read that creating a building with an end in mind facilitated the decisions they made along the way, and that the space is serving their campus well.  

I really want our library to be a space for teachers and students alike, a learning hub, a web 2.0 type space where all of us are contributors to the space, not just the library staff.

Chris shared some very helpful mission-oriented questions, many of them ones I have already been considering all year as we’ve been moving through planning the library.

  • “What is the educational mission of your school?
  • How can the spaces in the building contribute to that mission?
  • How flexible and adaptable are your spaces?
  • How do your spaces support student-centered learning?
  • How will all the members of your community use 21st Century technology tools, and how does your building support their use?
  • How can you create spaces that will allow all members of your community to collaborate?
  • How can you create spaces that allow all members of your community to feel ownership?
  • How can you build spaces that others may interpret differently than you and find new uses for?”
  • I’m planning to share the various versions of the floorplans with staff on campus and open up the discussion here as well for ideas or feedback, as we move closer to our “brick and mortar” plans.

    And I also feel thankful as I do so many times for the way blogging has made schools and our processes so much more transparent so that we can learn from one another, share with one another and support one another.   Thanks to Chris and Design Share for the article.

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