From the Field
From the LSC Roundtable Portfolios: Evidence of Learner-Centered Planning
For each LSC Roundtable, each participating architect prepared a portfolio about a specific project. Each portfolio included questions that drove the planning, a description of the project, and graphics and photos. Here we present examples of learner-centered planning from three of the portfolios.
New Core Sciences Facility at Memorial University of Newfoundland (Firm: HOK)
- How can a facility engage with the broader community whether actively participating or passively experiencing the place?
The art of science and engineering is demonstrated through socially turbocharged design, used as a creative driver to achieve “the place of choice” for learning and research. Level two is an activated main street/connector; with pedestrian bridges tying into the campus student center and partnering MUN faculties. It is a truly student-focused floor, housing the Senior and Junior design studios, Computer Lab and Classroom, and student collaboration areas.
Seaver College Life Sciences Building at Loyola Marymount University (Firm: Vantage Technology Consulting Group)
- How do you make a building with very high technical demands pretty and friendly?
- How do you keep students engaged outside the classroom fostering the continuation of team collaboration?
The project objectives of achieving interdisciplinary collaboration, sustainability, and connectivity have informed the design process, resulting in a prominent campus building that will itself serve as a teaching tool.
Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility at University of Wyoming (Firm: Research Facilities Design)
- How can the proposed STEM Facility help attract and retain new students (both majors and non-majors)?
Importantly, the facility also incorporates a variety of informal collaboration spaces including a central 3-story atrium, open and enclosed student study areas of different sizes for individual and group learning. These spaces incorporate movable furniture, large displays, writable walls, and places to hang student posters to facilitate peer learning.
The facility provides a great deal of external and internal transparency to support the "science on display" initiatives, allowing students and visitors to see others doing science, and serve as a highlight of admissions tours on campus.
From the Archives
Learner-centered Planning: Questions to Ask
The foundational principle of the Learning Spaces Collaboratory is that “building community” is both process and outcome of a successful planning effort. To “build community” in each of these meanings, it requires communal wrestling with key questions over many months - before, during, and after focusing on a specific project.
It is important for a community to revisit and reshape questions that reflect the changing context, new challenges and opportunities, new cutting-edge theories and practice emerging from questions being asked by pioneering colleagues and peers across the country.
In the context of learning-centered planning, some questions to ask:
- Questions to students:
- What do you like about the spaces for learning you have today--how do you feel about learning in these spaces?
- What do you not like about the spaces for learning you have today--how do you feel about learning in these spaces?
- What would you like to do--how would you like to be learning--but cannot do now?
- What kind of learning experiences do you have in a typical day?
- What was your best learning experience?
- Questions to faculty:
- What was your best learning experience?
- What do you like, what do you not like about the spaces for learning you have today?
- If you could really push-the-envelope to arrive at learning spaces that enhance the learning experience of your students, what would that space be like? How could you describe it? Can you visualize it?
- Questions to inform planning:
- How integrated is our campus thinking about people/program/space?
- Is there a campus-wide understanding between the quality of space and the quality of learning?
- What are our measures of successful learning?
- Who needs to be at the table for discussions about spaces for learning? When? Why?
- Questions about spaces:
- How would we answer the question why should people want to be in a particular space?
- What are our measures of a successful spaces for learning? What works? What evidence do we have about why spaces work?