Creating a Campus where Learning Happens Everywhere


Sandra  Kate LEED AP, REFP, HMC Architects

Kim  Coffeen REFP, Architect Irvine USD

James Krueger AIA, HMC Architects


1.5 Learning Units (LU)

How applies to HSW: 

Many school districts are looking for ways to increase students’ academic performance and to provide spaces that encourage a sense of community and connectedness. There has been a lot of focus on creating campus environments where”learning happens everywhere”. So, it begs the question; Does the notion that learning happens everywhere have merit? Is it possible to create spaces that facilitate and encourage deeper learning and understanding?     Recognizing the importance of post- occupancy evaluations, and their ability to help us create better learning environments, we decided to do a deep dive on Irvine Unified School Districts Portola High School. This campus opened in the fall of 2016, and is now in its second year of use. It was planned and designed to be a campus where learning truly happens everywhere. This campus includes various indoor/outdoor collaboration and encounter spaces to promote the sharing of ideas and hang out, as well as passive study spaces for both students and faculty. Classrooms surround collaboration suites that connect different disciplines to each other. These spaces have flexible furniture, writable surfaces, and technology that accommodates many different activities. The campus Maker-Space was strategically placed adjacent to the Campus Center building (the school’s student union) that sits in the heart of the campus for maximum visibility and use. The Campus Center houses a large flexible study space, library, ASB functions, parent center, and the Maker-Space that were all driven by stakeholder planning discussions. The union and library open to each other via a large sliding glass wall that allows the resulting larger space to be used for various functions during, before, and after school. Outside, there are two distinct quads – one that is more active near student dining (more of a noisy/hang-out space) and one that provides more quiet spaces near the classroom building clusters.     So, the big questions areÉ Does it work for the intended vision of how students interact and learn? Are the spaces being used as intended? Were some elements more successful than others? What made these spaces highly used, or what could have been added to make them great? Were there any unintended consequences (positive or negative)?     In this work session, we will provide a brief overview of different types of post-occupancy evaluations; then we’ll do a deep dive on the planning process that defined the spaces, and review the findings through a dynamic post- occupancy evaluation (D-P.O.E). This D-P.O.E. will include the district and campus leadership team, faculty, maintenance staff, and most importantly the students themselves. Some people surveyed will join us on stage and in video from the actual spaces on campus. This will allow for a deeper look into the findings and provide a great learning experience for anyone involved in the planning and designing of learning environments that facilitate collaboration. Did the input from the stakeholder planning team capture the needs of students and help create spaces that are used the way they were imagined? Are teachers and students aware of the intended functions and opportunities of the spaces? We will talk about the district’s plans and processes for working with building users on educational commissioning.

Learning Objectives:
  • Learn about types and processes for post-occupancy evaluations;
  • Understand the importance of educational commissioning of a school
  • Look at spaces from the students’ perspective to understand how emerging spaces in schools are used/appreciated;
  • Exploring dynamic ways to collect data & test efficacy of space
Primary Competency:

Assessment of the School Facility: The ability to objectively evaluate a learning environment post-occupancy and utilize that data to improve future projects. Implements a plan for educational commissioning that provides guidance on how to use and maximize the learning environment to meet the foundational vision established in the planning phase.

Primary Domain:

Process: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the importance of quality processes and practices implemented by the project team when creating learning environments. The who, what, when and how of various disciplines and applications.

Secondary Domain:

Toolbox: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the approaches, methods and applications when transitioning from design and concept into reality, actual existence through quality performance, execution and/or product.

Additional information: This is intended to be an interactive work session at tables where participants will ask students and teachers questions and then have small breakout discussions with questions about their thoughts on the planning process and views on the execution of creating spaces to meet the vision.