Rethinking and Re-doing…the School House Hallway #nxtchp2011

On early Friday morning, October 7, I met with architect Paul Van Slyke. Paul is a partner of Goode Van Slyke Architecture. Much of the firm’s portfolio exists in K-12 architecture and re-imagining educational design – program and space. Among many inspiring drawings, drafts, and conversations, I was impressed with the ways that Paul was rethinking school-house details – all the way to pieces as mundane-seeming as hallways. Hallways are not just transport tubes, but learning commons. Amen.

Talking to Paul, I was reminded of a Trung Le article in Fast Company that I had read a few months ago. Additionally, I zoomed mentally to the incredible experience of RE:ED Next Chapter 2011 – a design intensive several weeks ago in which we re-imagined the libraries of the future. In one of Paul’s drawings, he essentially transformed the library/media center from “lake” (fixed location) to “river” (flowing location). The function of the media center – library as verb – meandered meaningfully through the school house. It fed and enriched the river banks, and it teamed with life.

Much of my thinking resides at the intersection of education, innovation, design, and professional learning. I am most thankful for the travelers I meet at these crossroads!