Ohio: A State-Sponsored School Building Transformation Story


Frank Locker
Frank Locker Educational Planning

Glenn Rowell

Melanie Drerup

LU: 1

Learning Units

How applies to HSW:

Proper development of K-12 learning environments is critical to the health (mentally & physically), safety, and welfare of the students & staff who inhabit them. This is achieved through proper planning – the hallmark of this presentation. Additionally, the Ohio story will include discussion regarding the largest state-wide implementation of LEED standards, and LEED certified school buildings.


A state-wide school facilities transformation to next-generation education, quality of life, sustainability, health, safety and welfare is underway in Ohio. This presentation outlines why, how, who, when, and what, featuring images of many of the exciting solutions resulting from this State/Local School District cooperative program. And there are many more to come! AMBITIOUS TRADITIONAL PLANNING In 1997, underpinned by the conclusion that the state’s public K-12 school buildings were in need of significant overhaul, Ohio state government leaders decided to implement a program that would offer planning, design, construction, and funding assistance to all public K-12 school districts to make wholesale improvements to their classroom facilities. In the 20 years hence, many of the 610 school districts have availed themselves of the state’s offer, with $19.2 billion of new and renovated school buildings in place. To manage the monumental effort, the General Assembly established the Ohio School Facilities Commission, a state Agency that would be responsible for ensuring state funds were spent in pursuit of proper school building improvements. Right out of the gate, the Agency unveiled the Ohio School Design Manual (OSDM), a 2000-page volume that provides guidance on spaces, materials, building systems, components, etc. that would be acceptable for incorporating into classroom building renovation and new construction. For nearly 10 years the OSDM guided school design, relying on time-tested but traditional planning concepts. SCHOOL DESIGN TRANSFORMATION INITIATIVE; THE ‘NEXT GENERATION’ While the OSDM was never intended to produce specifically traditional-style school buildings, by-and-large that was the result. Consequently, in 2009, the Agency leaders directed staff to actively pursue ’21st-Century’ thinking in the development of new and renovated school buildings. From these newly-adopted values rose a massive transformation in both the planning process and, consequently, the final building product. In this session, you will hear Agency staff, a world-renowned Educational Planner, and Winton Woods City School District representatives discuss how the Ohio K-12 school building renaissance has transformed from 20th-century school thinking to being leaders in next-generation educational thinking and the development of associated educational places where students and staff:

  • Have the flexibility to tailor education to their diverse needs
  • Experience built and natural environments that provide options for their daily individual needs
  • Exist in healthy, sustainable, LEED certified environments
  • Feel safe
  • Feel happy
  • Feel valued
  • Have the tools they need to pursue their education goals/needs In short, hear how this state is guiding public K-12 school districts and their constituencies to ensure all the right questions are asked and answered when they make the huge decision to tackle large-scale facilities improvements.

In a sister presentation, SHP Leading Design Architects and Winton Woods City School District representatives will take a deep dive into the exciting Winton Woods/OFCC new building project where the district will employee the ‘New Tech Network’ approach to education across grades K-12.

Learning Objectives:
  • Understand large-scale application of 21st-Century thinking for education space reform;
  • Understand the value of Educational Visioning in developing proper education space
  • Understand how the commitment to LEED standards can have a large-scale effect on health, safety, and wellfare;
  • Understand how the commitment to “quality of life” results in places people want to be and healthier lifestyles
Primary 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.

Primary Domain:

Context: Content of this session/workshop will focus on the circumstances that form the setting for the design and construction of specific learning environments and characteristics that distinguishes the project from other applications.

Secondary 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.

Additional information:

Looking to create awareness and inspire action for large-scale change