Designing for Achievement: Processes, Principles and Patterns

By Victoria Bergsagel, Educational Facility Planner, December 2007
This article, featured in CEFPI's (Council of Educational Facility Planners, International) quarterly publication, explores how architecture gives form to the patterns by which we live and how our interest in a school's physical space can influence its philosophy and learning culture.
Designing for Achievement article


Making the Best Sense of Small Schools: Educational program goals drive effective design

By Gaylaird Christopher, AIA, and Victoria Bergsagel, 2007
Published in The American School Board Journal, this article relates how a smart balance between educational program goals, curriculum and design features results in small schools that make sense for all students.
Making Best Sense Article


Community Partnerships — Student Success and Community Vitality

By Victoria Bergsagel, June 2006

While schools have long been the heart of their communities, this article, published in School Planning & Mangagement, shares how both schools and communties can be transformed by partnering together to help all students achieve.

School Planning Article


Small Schools Best Prepared to Teach the New 3Rs

By Victoria Bergsagel, Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, September 2005
This article, published in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce School Construction edition, explores how small schools foster rigor, relevance, and relationships through a discussion of design decisions made at a small school and a multiplex of small learning communities.


Phoenix Rising:
An innovative mix of students and design turns a troubled school into a startling success

By Jo Cavallo, February 2005
In this article, printed in Edutopia Magazine, Victoria Bergsagel discusses the Julia Richman Complex's facilities upgrade, which cost a modest $2.5 million. "The beauty of having a 1923 building is that you have these great, wide halls ... Richman has captured some of the circulation space to create a sense of community."


High School's New Face

By Roberta Furger, November 2004
This article, printed in Edutopia Magazine, discusses the impetus for the small schools movement, calling it "the most far-reaching high school reform movement in a half-century." The piece outlines the benefits of small and includes statistics related to student achievement and school construction. The Met model is featured through the story of a young woman who chose Met West over her neighborhood comprehensive high school. In addition to extolling the benefits of small, the article acknowledges that the task to reform our nation's high schools is significant. Several videos profiling small schools are linked to this article.


Innovative Pedagogy and School Facilities

By Elliot Washor, Published by DesignShare, 2003
This is the story of the MET School in Rhode Island: it's a drama, a history, a doctoral thesis, and a design manifesto. The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center (the Met) is a high school that beat the odds. Under-performing kids in economically depressed areas of Providence are now going to Ivy League colleges. But Elliot Washor, co-director of the MET and his colleagues are not "whipping the kids into shape;" instead they are finding each kid's interests, one kid at a time. DesignShare's publication is based on Elliot Washor's doctoral dissertation at Johnson & Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island, entitled, Translating Innovative Pedagogical Designs Into School Facilities.


Back to the Agora: Workable Solutions for Small Urban School Facilities

By Barbara Lawrence, Eric Digest, September 2003
Several successful and innovative small uban schools have created places that are the modern equivalent of the agora, places where students and adults can interact with the community, share resources, and learn from each other. Such school designs can be "courageously evolutionary — not just astoundingly revolutionary."


Size Matters

By Joe Agron, American School & University, April 2003
Does size matter? When it comes to security and the size of school facilities, recent research suggests that it may. According to a University of Minnesota survey, the size of a middle or high school has a significant impact on young people's lives. The survey found that large campuses, particularly those with more than 1,200 students, foster alienation, drug use and risky behavior. Students also tend to feel less attached to these schools and less comfortable around fellow students and staff.


Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes?

By Mark Schneider, National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities, Nov 2002
This review explores which facility attributes affect academic outcomes the most, and in what manner and degree. The research is examined in six categories: indoor-air quality, ventilation, and thermal comfort; lighting; acoustics; building age and quality; school size; and class size and concludes that school facilities affect learning. The review asserts that this can be and generally has been achieved within the limits of existing knowledge, technology, and materials; it simply requires adequate funding and competent design, construction, and maintenance. The article concludes, “There is a definite consensus about the positive effects of school size, and the effects seem to be strongest with students from low socioeconomic groups.”


Financing Facilities

By John Augenblick and Justin Silverstein, October 2002
It's essential for board members and administrators, then, to know as much as they can about how school construction is funded, including the role of local school districts and states in paying for construction. Schools and education are changing, and with them school construction will change, as well. Certainly recent litigation over the condition of school facilities has altered and will continue to alter the landscape of school construction budgets and funding.


Designing Schools that Work for All Kids

By Victoria Bergsagel, School Construction, August 2002
Design teams must be encouraged to explore hard questions and think differently. Since we have all gone to school, we frequently reference our own experiences in the design process and make decisions about what is best for kids by referencing personal recollections. The pullback effect created by this nostalgia diminishes the likelihood of creating better learning situations for all. Our focus should be to rethink traditional educational facilities and program planning processes in order to meet current and future needs of all learners.


The Future of School Facilities: Getting Ahead of the Curve

By Mike DeArmond, Sara Taggert, and Paul Hill, May 2002
Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington
The authors point out that though many educators see reasons to change the ways in which teachers teach and students learn, few think about the way in which the school facility should reflect these changes and can support more personalized education. DeArmond et al identify five trends that affect schools: 1) pressure on schools to perform for all students, not just those who learn best in traditional settings; 2) demands for the personalization of learning, so that every child has a chance to learn and families have choices; 3) new technologies that will change how teachers teach and students learn; 4) periodic shortages of teachers (and school leaders) linked to swings in the economy; and 5) shifts in student population and residency patterns that will affect not only the demand for schools, but also the demands on schools.


By Design

By Mike Kennedy, American School & University, January 2002
Smaller learning communities are one way that schools can provide a more student-centered environment. Designers try to create different kinds of spaces that can enhance different teaching and learning styles. Those include spaces for independent learning, group interaction, interdisciplinary team-teaching and hands-on instruction.


Educational Architecture on a Human Scale

Horace Journal, Fall 2001
This edition of Horace, a publication of the Coalition of Essential Schools, focuses exclusively on using architecture to support small learning communities. Articles include "Innovative School Design for Small Learning Communities" and "School Design: An Architect's View". This edition of Horace also discusses principles that guide school design, using the Julia Richman Educational Complex and Noble High School as examples.


Smaller, Safer, Successful Schools

By Joe Nathan and Karen Febey, Center for School Change, 2001
Families want safe, nurturing, challenging, and effective schools for their children. At a time when record sums are being spent on school buildings, it is vital to talk about how that money is being used. This report provides brief case studies of 22 public school buildings in twelve states, which represent urban, suburban, and rural communities and includes both district-run and charter public schools. In addition to sharing the positive results small schools can have on student achievement, this report concludes that schools that share facilities with other organizations can offer broader learning opportunities for students, high quality services to students and their families, higher student achievement and better graduation rates, and a way to stretch and make more efficient use of tax dollars.