Perception is Reality: How Design can Impact Perception of Safety

9:45 AM – 10:45 AM


Research suggests there is a link between student perception of safety and academic performance. As Architects enlisted, and entrusted, to design spaces that not only inspire young minds but keep them safe, we wanted to explore how school design impacts the perception of safety. With that in mind we find ourselves asking: how do we build a new school that provides a sense of safety and security for all students while also maintaining this for administrators and community members? Architects Lisa Sawin, AIA and Mark Lee, AIA – parents themselves examine the reactions students had when presented different types of spaces within a school and different approaches to spaces that serve similar functions. What are the critical questions to ask? What does it mean to feel safe? What aspects of design invoke a sense of safety and security for students? What aspects don’t? What is a hardened environment and how is it achieved without impacting a student’s psyche? How does a student’s experiences alter their perception or definition of safety? Can the built environment help foster a culture that promotes safety and security?

#1: Participants will be able to engage students, staff and community members in a dialogue about their perception of safety and what enhancements can be made.
#2: Participants will be equipped with an exercise that depicts safety and security.
#3: Participants will be able to explore opportunities to enhance security measures without negatively impacting the learning environment.
#4: Participants will have learned how we’ve used these tools in our own practice, using the Auburn Public School’s Edward Little High School project as a case study.

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.

Assessment of the School Facility: The ability to objectively Evaluate a learning environment post-occupancy and utilize the 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 in the planning phase.

Mark Lee, Principal, Architect, Harriman
Mark is a principal architect at Harriman, building on more than 20 years of practice in his role leading the firm’s busy K-12 Education Studio. A passionate designer and leader, Mark guides new build, renovation, consolidation, and long-range planning for education clients throughout New England. Focused on balancing 21st-century learning environments with durable, long-lasting buildings, Mark works closely with clients to develop spaces that support flexibility and innovation with an eye toward sustainability. Mark holds a bachelor of science in both civil engineering and architectural engineering from Drexel University and a master’s of architecture from Boston Architectural College.

Lisa Sawin, AIA, LEED AP, Principal Architect, Harriman
Lisa is a principal architect in Harriman’s K-12 Education Studio. Her design philosophy is rooted in a belief that sustainable design is synonymous with good design Her experience as a teacher, builder and architect, coupled with her passion for developing inspiring learning environments, allow her to facilitate a collaborative process between all stakeholders resulting in meaningful design solutions. She holds a bachelor of science and a master’s of architecture from Norwich University.

LearningSCAPES Virtual Conference: Passport to Learning



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