Rightsizing design considerations

1. Traffic and circulation patterns.

Urban planners know that neighborhood identity is strengthened by protection from traffic, and a similar concept can be applied to small schools. If located in separate buildings small schools enjoy greater autonomy simply by design.* If that cannot be accomplished within an existing large building, doors can be designated (or installed with appropriate attention to building exiting requirements) to discourage students from one school from easily passing through the space of another. Schedules can be staggered to provide a calmer atmosphere in the corridors that serve common spaces. And since there is less need for circulation through hallways as small schools become more selfcontained, areas can be reworked to create more intimate and flexible settings.

* The Gore Associates (makers of the fabric Gore Tex) believe that the buildings that house their company teams must be distinct enough to allow for an individual culture in each. Burt Chase, their Chief Executive Officer, asserted recently, “We’ve found that a parking lot is a big gap between buildings. You’ve got to pick yourself up and walk across the lot, and that’s a big effort. That’s almost as much effort as it takes to get in your car and drive five miles. There’s a lot of independence in just having a separate building” (Gladwell, 2001, p. 182).