Empowering Independence: Empathetic Design of Environments for Neuro/Physically Diverse Learners

Room: D137-138

Audience: Architects

Call to Action: 

  1. Learn how to actively engage marginalized user groups that cannot represent themselves.
  2. Learn empathetic design practices to employ for neuro/physically diverse learning environments.
  3. Learn to advocate for marginalized learners through design.

Abstract: Join us as we delve into the complexities of designing neurodiverse environments that serve as both living and learning spaces. In this session, lead designers from JLG’s Education and Healthcare Studios invite you to explore Empathic and Lean Design through the lens of the Anne Carlsen Center in Jamestown, ND, a unique live-in learning community and therapy center for individuals with developmental disabilities. Learn how this groundbreaking project utilized extreme 3D visualization to virtually navigate the pandemic while translating the sensory-sensitive needs of occupants unable to advocate for themselves. Hear how to overcome contradictory needs and communication constraints while creating a community for residents, staff, and family within an educational, clinical, and residential setting. From accessible wayfinding to visual definition of zones for living, learning, and therapies, every design choice for the Ann Carlsen Center was carefully weighed to balance safety, inclusivity, functionality, empathy, and autonomy. You’ll hear how collaborative expertise addressed the daily and diverse needs of a uniquely controlled community, yet nurtured independence for life beyond the confines of the Center.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn how to utilize remote / digital engagement more effectively in the planning process.
  2. Learn the benefits and the limitations of utilizing 3D visualization in the design planning process.
  3. Gain an understanding of Lean Design in Learning Environments.
  4. Learn how to implement Empathic Design principles for users that cannot advocate and engage with the design team.
Daniel Miller, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP
Daniel Miller, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP
JLG Architects

Dan is a Principal Architect and JLG Architects’ K12 Practice Studio Leader, contributing over 27 years of experience shaping cutting-edge learning environments and communities across the country. He is a LEED-Accredited Professional who has earned over 30 industry awards while contributing his expertise to another 70 firm and client design awards. Dan has been certified as an active shooter responder instructor and is an Accredited Learning Environment Planner through the Association for Learning Environments. Dan is an influential advocate for education, earning the respect of industry leaders and school districts, led by thoughtful integration of This Century education, secure and sustainable campus design, collaborative and cross-age learning communities, universal restrooms, STEM, STEAM, and CTE design.

Todd Medd, AIA
Todd Medd, AIA
JLG Architects

As the leader of JLG Architects’ Healthcare Studio, Todd brings over two decades of cross-country experience, specializing in 21st-century ambulatory, acute care, healthcare education, and laboratory spaces. He is a national expert and published author on the innovation of rural healthcare, telehealth, trauma-informed design, and mental and behavioral healthcare design. Todd also leads the industry in the integration of new technologies, workforce retention, and operational excellence on healthcare campuses. He is an award-winning architect and active member of the AIA, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, and the American Society of Healthcare Engineers. Todd is a powerful healthcare design presenter and community outreach activist through his work with the 4-6-3 Foundation. He founded this non-profit to connect youth and their parents, coaches, and mentors with suicide prevention resources. Through his foundation, he frequently speaks to schools and community leaders, raising his voice to reduce the stigma, build hope, and save lives.

Katie Becker, AIA
Katie Becker, AIA
JLG Architects

As a Registered Architect and leader in JLG Architects’ K12 Studio, Katie has spent over a decade leading design, research, and implementation of emerging design trends, ensuring schools are able to meet the evolving standards of both classroom and CTE education. Becker has worked with districts across the country, focused on progressive improvement in learning environments, enhanced student opportunities, and sustainable design for future facility resiliency. Katie currently serves on the Midwest Great Lakes Board for the Association for Learning Environments and is a LEED Green Associate of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Core Competency

Design of Educational Facilities
Acts as a resource to the design team in providing ongoing guidance and support to ensure that the emerging and ultimate design aligns with the established community vision, education goals, future programming, written design standards, best/next practices and education policy.

LearningSCAPES 2024 Conference in Portland, Oregon


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


October 16-19, 2024


Email: donna@a4le.org
+1 480.391.0840