21st Century School Building Design

A Short History School Design 

Since their beginning during the 19th century, American public school systems' primarly role has been to prepare students for success in college, careers, and life beyond.  Evolving from the one-room school house, schools buildings have become more sophisticated over the centuries and decades as the demand for knowledge and skills have exponentially increased in response to America's growing and everchanging economy. The "factory-model" school building - characterized by long corridors with adjoining small box-shaped classrooms - was the most prevalent school design through the 20th century.  This design made sense at the time as schools were expected to churn out factory workers during America's Industrial Age.  

Starting in the mid-20th century, America's industries began slowly being replaced by a service-based economy.  And now, America is seeing a huge growth in high tech industries and specialized service-type sectors such as healthcare.  However, American school systems have been slow to adapt as outdated teaching and learning methods and the factory-model school design persist.    

More attention has been given to overhauling America's education system to bring it into the 21st century.  Since the Common Core Standards were adopted, Baltimore City Public Schools has been making changes to teaching and learning and this process will continue.  With the $1 billion school construction program, City Schools and the MOU Partners has a once-in-a-lifetime opporutnity to design school buildings for 21st Century learning.  Get involved with the work!  The Core Team and community meetings will be discussing this issue and making decisions with City Schools and the architect during the school design process.   

Characteristics of 21st Century School Design 

City Schools has adopted new district-wide Education Specifications - the template for new and renovated schools in the 21st Century Schools Program.  These specifications speak to the direction and values of City Schools, which is to bring teaching and learning into the 21st century.  If the goal is to ensure that city students are competitive for college, careers, and beyond, then the desing of the school building must reflect the current work environment, and not the factory-model.  Further, given the challenges of poverty, unemployment, and other societal factors, the role of a school and school building must be redefined.  What other purpose can a school building serve in a neighborhood struggling with disinvestment and a lack of servics and resources?

Flexible and Adaptive Spaces for Learning

Conducive for Social Interaction

Support Variety of Instructional Styles

Space for Family, Community, and Partnerships

Integrated Technology

Maximize Use of Spaces for Learning