21st Century Learning Considerations in Design

Huguenot High School, Richmond Virginia

by Bill Laughlin, K-12 Education Sector Leader

Moseley Architects’ focus on education allows us the opportunity to plan for and design learning environments that have the power to shape young minds. Each opportunity presents unique challenges. From designing elementary schools that support and welcome young children into a safe environment, to creating flexible classroom settings that address the transitional nature of the middle school experience and discovering ways that high school spaces can foster collaboration, so students can properly prepare for the future.

As educational planners and designers, we have a responsibility to strive to develop innovative options that embody characteristics that are critical to a public school systems’ learning objectives and mission. Strategies that can foster an accessible and more engaging learning experience include the following.

  • Considering ways your classrooms can provide instructional flexibility to accommodate a variety of learning styles (i.e., audible, visual, tactile, kinetic).
  • Capturing formal outdoor spaces (i.e., courtyards, cafes) to facilitate learning, studying, and socializing.
  • Considering how breakout-type spaces can allow students to present, collaborate, and study independently.
  • Adding movable walls to facilitate evolving curriculum needs.
  • Extending classrooms into circulation areas to increase space, improve supervision, and showcase learning.
  • Selecting bright, energetic, and durable finishes, which create an inviting space.
  • Adequately addressing technology and bandwidth requirements so that students and staff can access online resources and use school-issued and personal devices appropriately.
  • Including security measures that maintain a safe, secure, yet welcoming learning environment.
  • Establishing sustainable and high-performance design goals that benefit construction and operation budgets.
  • Encouraging public input to create a facility that can serve as a resource and strengthen the community’s connection to the school.