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Design for the Whole Child: Emerging Trends in School Design


By David Epstein, AIA, LEED AP, TruexCullins Architecture

Many educators are curious about latest developments in school design. Much of this discussion is focused on the impact of 21 st century learning concepts on facilities. O ur preference is to broaden that perspective and look at how schools can be designed for the whole child. This approach addresses other critical needs of child development including their physical and emotional wellness, as well as their place in their sch ool, town and broader world community. By looking at the needs of the whole child, we can identify how design can facilitate a school’s goals for Student Learning, Student Wellness and Community Engagement. Looking through this lens, we can organize our understanding of the seemingly disparate ideas surrounding re-inventing our schools. In reality, many schools have existing facilities and/or project budgets which preclude full implementation of these ideas. In these cases, each school must determine its priorities based on its community’s needs and incorporate those elements which will have the greatest positive impact while at the same time are financially feasible. David Epstein is managing principal and co-leader of the Education Studio atTruexCullins, an architecture and interior design firm located in Burlington, Vermont. David leads our international K-12 practice and writes extensively on school design in his blog Digital Crayon


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