While designing for Mid-Review, the most difficult part was trying to align all of the ideas I had for form with all of the ideas I had for function. My idea has been to focus on separating the school into four main areas, not based on grade level, but based on the four areas of design.
The most helpful critiques I received were about this and all of the reviewers I had liked my concept, but wanted me to explore it more. One reviewer said to use colors to inform program areas (they meant to use it in the floorplans but it got me thinking to use colors in the actual spaces too), while another said to go back and make sure that the form follows the function, and my program is driving the shape of my building just as much as the site is.
What I thought was very interesting after being critiqued and going and talking to teachers in existing schools was the clash of opinions. In reviews, I was critiqued for wanting the classrooms very open and exposed with lots of glazing and possibilities for interactions with other classrooms. The architects and professors I talked to at Cal Poly and LPA all thought I should enclose the spaces so it is less distracting to the students occupying them. When we visited High Tech High in San Diego though, I had the opportunity to talk to a teacher in a classroom that had tall glazing on all four walls and was completely exposed to the hallway and adjacent classrooms and he said it was one of the best environments he and his students had been in. And while, yes, it can be distracting occasionally when students see their friends walking by and have to wave and try to talk to them, he said that clearly the student wasn’t engaged in the material anyways. However, the benefits of being able to see the surrounding classrooms and what other students were working on gave them far more opportunities to collaborate with each other and work together on projects, a benefit of tall glazing far outweighing the consequences.