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Architecture: Re-Designing our School

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Keywords: Architecture, Technology, Digital Badging
Subject(s): Art, Photography, Civics, Social Studies, Spelling, Technology, Grammar, Writing, Reading, Math, English/Language Arts
Grades 9 through 12
NETS-S Standard:
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Research and Information Fluency
  • Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
  • Digital Citizenship
  • Technology Operations and Concepts
View Full Text of Standards
School: Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, CA
Planned By: Brenda Grueneberger
Original Author: Brenda Grueneberger, Sacramento
Students begin by providing a unique name, logo, and "brand" for their Architect Firm. In teams, they assign a Director of Exterior Building Design, a Director of Interior Design, a Director of Energy Efficiency & Sustainability, a Director of Landscape Design, and a Director of Community Relations.

Early in the school year, students host and conduct a panel interview with our Head Custodian, Cafeteria Director, Librarian, Athletic Director, Site Administration, and the Director of Facilities for our school district. They ask a series of questions to get a sense of what their "clients" perceive as challenges and needs so they in turn can respond to those needs in their designs.

Next, students go out and conduct field research on campus using student surveys, teacher surveys, measurements, seating capacities, traffic flow, photography of spaces with and without people using them, and demographic data about the school in general.

Students are exposed to contemporary architects including Frank Ghery, IM Pei, Zaha Hadid, Meis van der Rohe, and Frank Lloyd Wright and incorporate elements of their designs as inspirations for their own creations.

Students then break out of the confines of the classroom to visit LEED Certified Buildings, skyscrapers, and buildings by famous architects in the Sacramento Valley and over in the San Francisco Bay Area. In turn, they use these experiences as inspirations for their designs. They are taught how to "read" a building, how to do thumbnail sketches to focus on aspects of buildings, and the political and social nuances of historical preservation. They visit community gardens and public art installations while seeking our inspiration for partnerships within their community. They study local government, economics, environmental impact laws, and federal laws for access and ADA accommodation.

Students do all of this while interfacing with Discover Design to develop solutions to their project design challenge. They interact with their architect mentors, site teachers, their "clients", and peers from other schools responding to this feedback in their Final Designs.
Students then move to a scale physical model using cardboard.

Students then present their final designs. Each "director" above submits their own independent research and reflection. They dress professionally and present their designs as an authentic Architect Firm to their "clients" above, site administration, peers, and the teaching team for evaluation. The past three years, we were able to have their architect mentors use Skype to watch them present and give them feedback.

The engagement in critical thinking and solving problems has been eye opening for students, staff, and administration despite having to piece technology together with the limited resources we have. Our goal is to provide students with the technology to make these projects shine the way they should. Leaving it to sketch-ups on the site and a cardboard model doesn't provide them with what their model would really look like in 3D form. Hence, we're asking for technology that will do their projects justice.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
Students currently work in teams to develop their designs. This cooperative model teaches leadership, cooperation, compromise, and respect for working with one another. This course of study is taught on an interdisciplinary basis with a team of teachers. Students draw on their experiences in International Studies English, Global Art, and Social Studies and apply them to the design of their projects.
We are currently limited to an intense, six week period to take students through the design process at an incredibly fast pace. We want to move the project into a full-year experience at each level so students are interacting throughout the year with students from across the country and their architect mentors to develop solutions to their design challenges. This will add depth to their current projects while holding them more accountable as participants of the architectural community on-line on Discover design.

Our goal is to expand this project to all four levels 9-12 using small, medium, large, and extra large projects as a progression. This is already set up through Discover Design based on our advisory role and input we've given Chicago over the past several years. Each project entails the same design process from beginning to end. Access to the next level is built into the site, and students can continue developing and improving their digital badge earnings as they progress through four years of study.
Links: Link to Discover Design
Materials: Mobile Labs, Printers
Other Items: 2 Samsung Goodle Chromebook Labs, $13,000 each
4 3D Printer: MakerBot Replicator 2X , $2800 each, total of $11200.00
5 ABS Filament, $192 each, total of $960.00
1 MakerCare (Service Plan), $500 each, total of $500.00