Not every day that someone can so quickly combine the world of a) learning environment design, b) architectural practice, and c) blogging into one scenario. Thanks to Aaron for this head's up.
"As a means of facilitating communication among the many parties involved with design and construction, the blog has promoted performance-based design. Not only did the blog prove to be an effective tool in programming, if updated, it could continue to aid the construction process through a post-occupancy evaluation." -- AIArchitect e-newsletter, 12.05
I've quickly become a fan of blogging.
And as previous posts that highlighted conversations I've had with Chris Lehman (and his Practical Theory blog) up in Philly in his on-going design of the Science Leadership Academy floor plan have suggested, there is real potential for blogging to play a role in school design (as well as 'school in general') over time. From the Carnival of Education, 12.21.05 version:
- How is Web 2.0 learning changing the very way we design our schools? The Science Leadership Academy will open in Philadelphia in September 2006, and it will be a better school because of the blogs. These links detail the interaction between two education bloggers -- the principal of SLA, Chris Lehmann (who blogs on Practical Theory) and school facilities expert Christian Long (of Think:Lab):
Chris I: Open Source School Design, Blogging and Why This All Matters
Christian I:Design a School, Web2.0 Style!
Chris II: Web 2.0 School Design -- Something Powerful is Going On
Christian II: Science Leadership Academy and Web2.0 School Design
Further conversations recently with Randall Fielding of DesignShare, Judy Marks of the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF) and Ian Jukes of the Committed Sardine blog, as well as meeting with Dr. Mike Klonsky of the Small Schools Workshop in Chicago this week, have also suggested real possibilities for blog-collaboration in designing future learning environments.
This is why Aaron's link grabbed my attention:
According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and their 12.05 AIArchitect e-newsletter, something very intriguing took place at George Mason University recently. While in the process of adding approximately 12,000 SF to the existing Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study in Fairfax, VA, it was learned that the vast majority of scientists and researchers were unhappy about not being consulted during the original building-design process.
To that end:
To rectify this potential situation for the Krasnow Institute, [they] decided to use “the blog,” a means of information-sharing that can bridge the gap among parties typically not communicating with one another.
Exactly how was this used and how did it have a positive impact on the design process?
During the addition’s programming phase, the blog proved an effective tool with which to solicit participation of faculty and staff, a group of people often regarded as too large to assemble, whereas consulting individually would be too time consuming. In addition, the blog established a passive communication among groups of people typically isolated from one another, as in the case of the three competing design teams and the Krasnow Institute end-users.
Blogging creates "cohesive understanding" amongst all participants in the design process:
The Krasnow Institute management realized that it was critical to involve their faculty and staff, the building’s end-users, in the programming phase. Because of the interdisciplinary—yet collaborative and communal—nature of the institute, each person’s input was necessary to develop a cohesive understanding about the way that a diverse group of people and their work come together.
How would this differ from a traditional design process?
Conventional program development often is limited to a two-way conversation between a building representative and the architect. In many instances, the representative does not necessarily have firsthand knowledge of the needs and issues associated with how the end-users inhabit their space. By involving the end-users in the information gathering process, the expectation is that the resulting designs will be more informed, and performance-based from the beginning.
According to the article and those who participated in the George Mason design experience, the following were positive on-the-fly reflections of the blogging experience:
- Feedback Loops & Statistics: "...blog technology has proven an effective tool to establish feedback loops, distribute information collected from the interviews, and yield quantifiable statistics about who is accessing the data."
- Encourage/Manage Involvement: "The blog also proved an effective tool to encourage and manage end-user involvement."
- Increase audience; less work: "Establishing a virtual interface created self-sustaining feedback loops; therefore, a greater audience could be targeted with less effort."
- Respond to assumptions in real-time: "A dialogue was established where end-users could voluntarily view and respond to assumptions posted on the blog by the programming administrator and to ideas posted by their colleagues. . . .design-related assumption could be validated, clarified, challenged, or debated."
- Democratic process: "The democratic venue provided by the blog allowed everyone to contribute his or her experiences."
- Creating a collective space for collaboration: "The blog boosted interview participation because it acted as a collective space that could be conveniently accessed according to an individual’s particular schedule and location, and each person had the option to post anonymously."
In short, the following seem to be the real key consequences:
- "The broadcast communication benefit provided by the blog tool kept the end-users informed about the anticipated construction and alleviated stress associated with “the unknown.”"
- "The blog can become an electronic database so that the design intent established at the beginning of the project does not get lost throughout the process."
- "The blog provided user statistics that could be tracked and recorded."
- "Convenient, inexpensive, and informative" process with maximum benefit.
I'm already beginning to day-dream the possibilities when it comes to school bond election processes, community-based master planning for long-range school development, the schematic/charette design process when beginning to 'bar napkin' sketch early school concepts, etc.
Seems that the sky is the limit if capturing the full range of voices is considered key in the design process. Certainly an optimistic horizon line.