Facility Planning: Aesthetic Value

March 1, 2011
Creativity isn't always seen on the outside.

Are you hoping to select the most creative architect for your new school? Creativity can be deceiving and not always immediately visible. You need more than a quick walkthrough of a recently built school.

What kind of creativity do you want in a school design for the technologically enriched global age?

•Cutting-edge design—hoping experimental, inventive learning spaces will inspire new educational philosophies and force change?

•Ingenious design—expressing a new building image to the community?

•Innovative design—creating new personal learning environments for your traditional education philosophy?

•Imaginative design—enhancing the aesthetics of standardized learning environments?

•Functional flexible design—enhancing existing and future educational programs?

•Aesthetic design—creating an exciting, fanciful exterior community image and spaces that stimulate teaching and learning?

Do you want the architecture to express modernism, post-modernism, high-tech, deconstructivism, "blobitecture," sustainability, or just a contemporary appearance that reflects community values and culture? Or are your creative wants found in features such as indoor air quality, acoustics, natural light, recycled materials, rainwater harvesting, semi-intensive vegetative roofing, passive solar, photovoltaic panels, smart energy-management systems, landscaped courtyards, outdoor classrooms, green design, ground-source heat exchange wells or technology-rich classrooms?

Architecture is problem-solving. That means understanding the unique needs of a client, and creating spaces and relationships to enhance that vision.

The word "aesthetics" is derived from the Greek aisthetikos, meaning "of sense perception." Aesthetics is the quality that gives pleasure to the senses, and involves balance, order, integrity and meaning. Those affect scale, proportion, symmetry, asymmetry, light and shadow, pattern, texture and color.

Architectural creativity involves much more than visual appearance. Creativity should enhance teaching and learning opportunities, inspire students and teachers, and stand the test of time. The architect’s creativity involves and responds to several important venues of a project, including:

•Planning and awareness of directions in education.

•Communications and writing the educational specifications.

•Expressing the campus’ or district’s design philosophy.

•Interpreting the educational program, philosophy and scheduling.

•Developing the space programming.

•Responding to the educational program with the most appropriate functional space relationships.

•Creating the aesthetics in accordance with the budget.

•Designing creative technical details.

•Selecting materials, systems, furniture, fixtures and equipment in accordance with the budget while maintaining economical and efficient long-term operations and maintenance.

•Producing accurate and complete construction documents to maximize the best bids and minimize change orders during construction.

•Providing a successful project that meets immediate facility needs, and developing flexibility for future changes.

•Building commissioning.

Architects specializing in school design should understand all the aspects involved in creating a final project that is aesthetically pleasing (beauty), responds to educational needs (utility), and produces a lasting structure that will serve generations of students (durability).

Rydeen, FAIA, is an architect/facility planning specialist and former president of Armstrong, Torseth, Skold & Rydeen, Inc. (ATS&R), Minneapolis. [email protected].

About the Author

James Rydeen | Architect/Facility Planning Specialist

Rydeen, FAIA, is an architect/facility planning specialist and former president of Armstrong, Torseth, Skold & Rydeen, Inc. (ATS&R), Minneapolis.

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