Announcing a PKAL Series of Facilities Webinars

A pilot series of conversations within the PKAL community about planning and renovating facilities.

How to imagine and implement ideas about ‘sandboxing’ spaces that reflect attention to how students learn (from theory and practice): when learning is social, collaborative, messy, ill-defined, problem-directed, open-ended, hands-on, boundary-less, real-world, highly-connected, an adventure.

  • On many campuses with projects completed or now underway, this process of imagining and implementing (and assessing) new spaces has taken more than one year to link what faculty expect their students to know and be able to do to the reality that space matters.
  • In this process, one campus arrived at the mantra—everyone is a learner; every space is a learning space; everyone is learning all the time—that ultimately drove the remodeling of a single classroom and the adjacent spaces. Another developed an informal learning goal that students should become ‘boundary-crossing agents’ as the guiding principle of redesign of a course and of the spaces for that course.
  • These will be conversations to determine what is important to people about what is to happen in the space.

How to assemble working groups of people with the right expertise, experience and commitment (budgets?), so that there is a growing understanding of the long-term needs and the short-term possibilities. As noted in a recent PKAL workshop, a scarcity of resources does not mean a scarcity of imagination. Engage the ‘outliers,’ especially students. Find out everything there is to know about how spaces—campus-wide—contribute to robust learning for all students, including majors and students in STEM fields.

  • An audit of campus spaces provides information about how, when and by whom formal and informal spaces for learning are used, information that is of value for immediate and long-term planning.
  • This audit will also suggest opportunities for ‘sandboxing’ spaces—formal and informal learning (niches in corridors, reshaping dorm lounges, etc.)
  • Make a concerted effort to engage students—understanding what works for them.

How to take advantage of lessons learned about what works from the community of experienced and reflective practitioners (academics, architects, lab designers and campus planners) during the initial stages of planning.

  • Learn about small steps to take in the planning process that become the foundation for a major effort.
  • Gain insights about best practices in imaging and planning in other settings and take time to adapt them to your setting.
  • Become increasingly clearer about the questions and issues that matter to your campus community when thinking about learning and spaces for learning.
  • Learn about innovative ‘quick fixes’ that made a difference now and sparked/solidified ideas for the future. (One campus spent $50,000 to remodel the entry into the building. Other stories: inviting art students to paint murals in the hallways; examining the furniture acquisition budget as a means to play around with different styles and connections of tables, chairs and benches.)

Previous Conversations

Renovating spaces to accommodate research-based pedagogies, emerging interdisciplinary programs and institutional goals for sustainability—I.
Margaret DeBolt (Zimmer Gunsul Frasca)
Charles Kirby (EYP/ Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architecture & Engineering P.C.)
Alexander K. Wing (Burt Hill)
Date: April 14, 2009

Planning for Renovating: Understanding the Process
Jeanne L. Narum (Project Kaleidoscope)
David Van Wylen (St. Olaf College)
Date: May 13, 2009