Email Status

Volume 15, Number 1
January/February 1999

School Design Can Say a Lot About Teaching and Learning


Like many teachers, Ric Packard used to have to run to the school office if he wanted to make a phone call. A couple of flights of stairs stood between him and communication with the outside world. "I'm in pretty good shape, but it was fatiguing," says Packard, a 6th-grade teacher in Vancouver, WA.

Teachers' workrooms and the restrooms, too, were far from his classroom. In short, the kinds of facilities whose proximity most office workers take for granted were inconveniently located.

Packard now teaches at Vancouver's newly built Discovery Middle School, where he and other teachers—as well as parents and community members—all had input into how the school should look and be laid out. Since opening in 1995, the school has won several design awards, including the James D. MacConnell Award from the Council on Educational Facility Planners International—an accolade some call the Academy Award of school architecture world.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

J.A. Lackney. Educational Facilities: The Impact and Role of the Physical Environment of the School on Teaching, Learning, and Educational Outcomes. Milwaukee, WI: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Cednter for Architecture and Urban Planning Research, 1994.

M. Berner. "Buildings Matter: The connections Between School Building Conditions and Student Achievement in Washington, DC" in Designing Places for Learning. A. Meek (ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 1995.

B. Schapiro & Associates. "Perceptions of Educators about School Design Issues," survey conducted for Heery International, Atlanta, GA, 1998.

A.P. Taylor and G. Vlastos, School Zone: Learning Environments for Children. Corrales, NM: School Zone, Inc., 1983.

A Taylor. "Physical Environments Do Affect Learning & Behavior of Students." Mass Magazine 11 (Fall 1998): 46-54.

Council of Educational Facility Planners, International.

HGA Educational Design Group, 1201 Harmon Place, Minneapolis, MN 55403.

Tom Hagley, Jr., Assistant to Superintendent, Vancouver Public Schools, P.O. Box 8937, Vancouver, WA 98668.