LSC Webinar - 21st Century Questions for & from 21st Century Clients

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Reflections on their roundtable experience by a cadre of participating architects. ​

3:30 - 5:00 p.m. EDT
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There is no registration fee. Access to a recording of the webinar will be sent out after the event.


  • Jeanne L. Narum, Principal - Learning Spaces Collaboratory

​Following the LSC Roundtable at the University of Washington, Narum was invited to meet with the newly-formed Seattle AIA Committee for Architecture in Education to speak about the concept of the roundtables. The PPT presentation setting  the stage for the conversation focused on recent reports from national professional societies and organizations of business leaders documenting the contextual changes requiring new ways of looking at spaces for learning. "Takeaway" thoughts were shared and captured. (Note: The NIH report on TEAM Science highlighted in the PPT outlined strategies to ensure the success of team, including the need for a pre-nuptial agreement.)

(from LSC session at 2012 AIA National Conference)

Comments and questions from the participants in the October CAE/AIA event:

  • If one of the ways to nurture creativity is to provide a competitive environment, how can that be balanced with thinking about an environment in which it is also okay to fail?
  • How does this translate to faculty office space, or does it?
  • Best question for my colleagues about questions to our clients: What do we want our learners to become; puts the focus on the learners?
  • How to create a space and welcoming environment for all types of students, providing a home for learning? How to get the client to commit to a solution without undermining their vision?
  • I appreciate the Socratic method of asking questions to engage learners—but what was missing for me is the question “why.” Before we ask the question what and how, we need to talk about “why” for a common understanding.
  • What I learned from this session is to ask the right questions to users, before the project and compare with post-occupancy studies. What are our measures of success of a facility: happy users, increased enrollments, better research?
  • How can we all become more effective (better) listeners, communicators and learners? How do we really understand each other—clients and architects? What is the loop of learning—embracing ownership, evolving and engaging activities, intuition and inspiration?
  • Explore social creativity in our office. Hold "flash lectures" with teachers/clients to understand how they would really use flexible spaces. Utilize a pre-nuptial agreement for collaboration internally at our office. Use the question “what keeps you up at night" as an icebreaker with clients.
  • How can our buildings get out of the way of people making authentic connections?
  • How do we create learning opportunities and spaces that emphasize and celebrate the process of learning? How do we support and facilitate children’s natural curiosity and desire to learn new things?
  • How much are the departments, faculty, and administrators influenced by industry grants? Should learning spaces be designed to serve programs of industry partners? Are there pressures on courses (K – 12, CC) to push for collaboration with industry partners, to be able to offer promise of jobs/careers?
  • School populations and technologies change more rapidly than buildings. How can spaces be made flexible enough to adapt, without completely remaking them, without large changes?
  • I got out of today: Are we doing the most we can to improve teaching outcomes and student engagement? Questions to bring back: What are the teaching styles that successful faculty use; how can we accommodate collaborative and cross-disciplinary learning?
  • Questions for faculty: do you still learn? How do you know? Questions for students: Where do you remember learning the best? Why do you go to school? What would make you want to go if you did not want to go? Questions for clients: Why didn’t you bring us on earlier?
  • How does a pedagogy shift supporting risk-taking become acceptable to multiple stakeholders: administrators, faculty, academic staff, facilities staff, and manifest itself in the physical environment: whiteboards, HVAC, lighting, tech, carpet, etc.
  • What is the intersectionality between the goals of education spaces & the realities of the physical built environment (budget, maintenance, etc.)?
  • Ask my clients: how do they expect their students to succeed, their expectations for their students? Ask my co-workers how are we creating innovative spaces? How do we know we’ve achieved this? What is the evidence?
  • I’m hoping to improve our "questioning" with our clients…about learning spaces, working spaces, libraries, questions about spaces for self-directed, life-long learning.
  • For any clients: What question hasn’t be asked? For my colleagues: How do we avoid “group think?” From my Montessori colleagues, I’ve learned about the importance of a “prepared environment” and to designate a "cynic" for every group discussion? For all: How do we hold onto the past while leaping into the future?
  • Thanks for adding to my reading list. Here are some of my favorites: Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood; Trickster Maker This World; A Canticle for Lebowitz; Denise Scott Brown Lectures.
  • How do you keep these collaborative spaces from disappearing during cutbacks in design or scope?
  • I am bringing back to my firm the literature list of reports and books, and—the fundamental question to ask our clients: what do we want the students to become?