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Projects | The Design of Childhood

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To Bailey Edward, education comes in all forms. Our staff has attended great universities and colleges. We’re active at industry conferences, workshops and online webinars. And we look to continuously grow our knowledge base to meet the challenges and ever-changing theories on education environments for all age levels: pre-K to 12, higher education and lifelong learners.

However, nothing replaces a good book. At BE, we’re always looking for the latest material and research that will influence our education designs. We believe that as an extension of the curriculum and values of an institution, each education facility must be expertly tailored. In her recent book, The Design of Childhood, Alexandra Lange agrees, writing, “Curriculum and design have to work together, or things fall apart.” The Design of Childhood takes a look at a child’s material environment, their design and the short and long-term effects on the child. Publications such as The Design of Childhood are important as they help us, and other architects, understand the impacts that our designs may have on their users.

Moreover, these publications bring light to successful precedents of innovative education environments. We are proud that our work with Cannon Design at the Booker T. Washington STEM Academy in Champaign, Illinois was discussed in The Design of Childhood as an example of education design that expertly supported the school and its students.

Booker T. Washington STEM Academy is a K-5 magnet school serving 425 students. The design maximizes space for learning activities to occur throughout the building. A STEM laboratory connects students with professionals and inward focused clusters of three learning studios open onto a communal gathering and project workspace for discussion and collaboration. Outdoor learning areas and landscaping that incorporate the school’s science curriculum provide opportunities for the school to move away from the “factory model” of American education that Lange supports in her book.

As architects, our job is to design environments that support the growth and development of those who use it in collaboration with our education clients, whether it is a renovation of existing facilities, the design of new school buildings such as Booker T. Washington, or a master plan of a campus. Through our retainer with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), we worked to breathe new life into their facilities in support of their curriculum. Recently, we were selected by CPS to be pre-qualified as an architect-of-record to realize their mission through their facilities. At the Illinois Math and Science Academy, we worked hand-in-hand with the administration to create a full master plan of their campus that illustrates their vision.

We’re excited to take part in designing the built environment to enhance and support education efforts for young minds and eager to lead the way in designing innovative education facilities.