Converting Lessons Into Awards

Recent graduate and Page designer Jordan Moses already had a competitive advantage when she started working at the firm. Unlike some of her peers, she came to Page with award-winning field experience as the result of an unusual architecture studio class. A video of interviews with Jordan and her classmates was just presented to local members of A4LE (Association for Learning Environments) during a tour of the completed first phase of the educational project on which the students based their work.

For the past three semesters, students of The University of Texas at Arlington College of Architecture, Planning and Public Affairs (CAPPA) graduate architectural studio class have benefitted from an arrangement with A4LE that allowed them to research design elements in a new K-12 charter school with architects from firms BRW Architects, Corgan and Huckabee. She and her classmates evaluated the urban design aspects of the project, considered the mechanical and structural systems, and interviewed end users about their experiences and goals for the facility.

Using the same program as the project team and learning from the architects was a very exciting experience that helped Jordan become more aware of real-world design issues. Each student’s independent coursework was submitted to A4LE, which judged a winner, and Jordan was the Spring 2017 semester’s standout. Later that year AL4E had her present at their regional conference in New Orleans.

Jordan explained how educational the experience was, “I was surprised at how differently we think about academic design now versus how it was considered when I went to primary school. There’s much more collaboration and the resulting design isn’t so static or restrictive.” Previously, hallways were simply double-loaded corridors that got users from point A to point B and classrooms were set up with desks lined up in rows, facing the front so the teacher could lecture.

“Today, we are looking at flexible classroom spaces with furniture that rolls around to allow for a more active learning environment. It was interesting to get rid of that preconceived idea of what a school looks like or how it works and learn a new approach to academic design that can be much more beneficial to both the students and the teachers.”  

The first half of the studio class was devoted to extensive research on current concerns that didn’t exist in recent decades such as security, sustainability, flexible learning spaces and flexible furniture systems. In her individual coursework, Jordan focused heavily on the interaction between interior and exterior spaces and found that she really enjoys academic design.

One of the participating design firms, Huckabee, made a video of interviews with the studio professor and students, in which Jordan appears twice. All six students featured in the video are currently employed with a design firm that focuses on education.

Now a full-time designer at Page, Jordan became deeply immersed in the firm’s Collin College Wylie Campus project. Although not a K-12 project, she enjoyed the feeling of familiarity with its academic design concepts and looks forward to her next challenge.