From Opportunity to Achievement: Breathing New Life into an Old Learning Space

11:15 AM – 12:15 PM


In 2013 the Baltimore City Public School System Construction and Revitalization Act kicked off a partnership between the State of Maryland, Baltimore City, and City Schools. One of the largest public works projects in the City, the $1.1 billion 21st Century School Buildings Program aimed to renovate or reconstruct at least 23 city school buildings within the next decade. Pimlico Elementary/Middle School was one of the schools to receive funding. Determined to transform student opportunities and achievement, engage communities, and revitalize neighborhoods, the design team knew they had to work inclusively to create a learning environment that would serve the community within the walls, and beyond. In this presentation, Meredith Sullivan, an architect with nearly two decades of K-12 experience, talks candidly about working with staff, teachers, community members, the Maryland Stadium Authority, and engineering design consultants to co-design a 21st Century learning environment. The team wanted to preserve the existing historic buildings while weaving in modern building elements. They reconfigured the space to promote collaborative, project-based learning modalities, and through community participation and attention to the school-specific curriculum, external input informed design. This allowed the project team to create a quality facility driven by the School’s desired behavior. This presentation will use Pimlico Elementary/Middle School as a case study to help the audience understand the complexities of transforming an early 20th Century campus of buildings designed around the industrial model of education to 21st Century learning spaces while celebrating the historic architecture, respecting the past, and placing value on community input. Meredith will share insights, lessons learned, challenges faced, and lead participants in a mock community meeting to demonstrate the power of good facilitation and community input.

#1: Help key stakeholders differentiate their perceived facility needs from their actual facility needs.
#2: Guide staff at all levels to work in partnership with the community; accurately identifying their priorities and fears, and responding accordingly and responsibly.
#3: Link design decisions to curriculum objectives, helping the audience understand how these two variables impact one another.
#4: Increase understanding of how design can facilitate shifts in learning and how flexible solutions can adapt over time to respond to current facility needs.

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.    

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.

Meredith Sullivan, Senior Associate, Design Collective Inc.
Meredith has over 18 years of experience and an impressive portfolio of academic facilities for K-12 clients. She has completed projects for Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Howard County Public Schools, and holds architecture licenses in Maryland, DC, and Virginia and is certified in LEED AP, BD+C NCARB, and is a member of AIA. Meredith received her Bachelor of Architecture from Virginia Tech.

LearningSCAPES Virtual Conference: Passport to Learning



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