Design With Me, Not For Me: How Community Engagement “Elevated” the Design Process

Room: F150-151

Furnished by: Smith System

Audience: Architects

Smith System

Call to Action: 

  1. Use the tools provided from this presentation to Develop a Community Engagement Plan, during the Pre-Design Phase.
  2. Develop an inclusive set of Guiding Principles based on the input from Project Stakeholders and Community Members.
  3. Create a connection between Community Engagement and Post-Occupancy Evaluations by using the tools provided from this presentation to develop a Post-Occupancy Evaluation Process that measures the success of the Guiding Principles.

Abstract: Community engagement should be an integral part of the design process. Projects that integrate community engagement have become increasingly common and have proven to have many benefits. This session will explore a holistic approach to community engagement that considers the unique needs, values, security requirements and aspirations of the community and its cultural diversity. This collaborative process results in educational facilities that are more safe, responsive, functional, and supportive of the local population, ultimately contributing to the overall success of the school and the well-being of its users. To illustrate the benefits of community engagement, the team of presenters will tell the story of East Ridge Elementary School. East Ridge Elementary sits on the East bench of Ogden, UT and is a crossroad of outdoor enthusiasts and cultural diversity. During design, 74% of the students qualified for free and reduced meals and a minority population of 45%. The team will explore the various community engagement methods utilized from the beginning to the end of this project, even one that led the design team on a journey that traversed nearly 12 miles and 2,800 feet of elevation gain by foot! As well as highlighting how, the new school is a beautiful reflection of the culturally blended community. In addition, the team will discuss tools and best practices for gathering and synthesizing community and stakeholder feedback, explore how these tools can be utilized during the Post-Occupancy Evaluation phase of a project, leading to further insight and learning, as well as review the Post-Occupancy Feedback from the East Ridge Elementary School Community.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discover how community input leads to an inclusive user-centered design, improving the learning experience for all.
  2. Learn strategies for community engagement during the visioning and design process.
  3. Discuss how school safety and security can be integrated into the programming process.
  4. Identify strategies for community engagement during post-occupancy evaluation.
Ken Crawford
Ken Crawford
Director of Support Services and Athletics, Ogden School District

Ken has been an educator for 21 years. After graduating from BYU, he spent the first 6 years as a teacher and coach, then the following 15 as an administrator. As the Director of Support Services in Ogden he overseas several departments including Child Nutrition, Construction, Facilities & Operations, Purchasing & Procurement, Athletics, Health & PE, Driver’s Ed, and a few others. He and his wife Trecia have 3 daughters.

Brian Parker, AIA, ALEP
Brian Parker, AIA, ALEP
Vice President, Director K12 Learning Environments, MHTN Architects

Brian is a Vice President at MHTN Architects with 20+ years of experience developing innovative learning environments that focus on enhancing the student learning experience. His expertise in community engagement and learning from students and educators has led the evolution of Utah Schools becoming engaging, student-centered places that support all modes of learning. Brian believes in an inclusive design process that focuses on the learning experience and celebrates the uniqueness of each school community.

Ben Hansen, AIA, ALEP
Ben Hansen, AIA, ALEP
Associate Principal, K-12 Learning Environments, MHTN Architects

Meet Ben, a seasoned professional with 13 years of expertise in crafting next generation learning spaces. Dedicated to supporting educators and students, Ben excels in tailoring environments to diverse teaching and learning styles. His role involves understanding school districts’ needs, aligning designs with curricula, and addressing local community requirements. Ben's talent lies in simplifying complex design challenges and developing optimal learning environments.

Haley Costomiris, NCIDQ, SSCID, IIDA, Assoc. AIA
Haley Costomiris, NCIDQ, SSCID, IIDA, Assoc. AIA
Associate, Hospitality Design, MHTN Architects

Haley is a passionate interior and architectural designer who blends creativity and functionality in every project. Haley holds a Masters in Architecture from the University of Utah, and now specializes in K12 school design. Her diverse background in high-end residential, commercial and hospitality spaces, combine to inform immersive environments that transcend conventional boundaries. Embracing the intersection of art, functionality and education, Haley brings a unique vision to the world of school design.

Core Competency

Community Engagement
Leads the internal and external communities through a discovery process that articulates and communicates a community-based foundational vision, forming the basis of a plan for the design of the learning environment. The vision is achieved through a combination of rigorous research, group facilitation, strategic conversations, qualitative and quantitative surveys and workshops. Demonstrates the skill to resolve stakeholder issues while embedding a community's unique vision into the vision for its schools.

LearningSCAPES 2024 Conference in Portland, Oregon


Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97232


October 16-19, 2024


+1 480.391.0840