Tight Sites: The Advantages of Programming K-12 Schools by Building Up

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM


Traditionally, lower-level schools fill sprawling floor plans and sit at only 1-2 stories. This default structure often limits the practicality and possibility of incorporating new and exciting educational environments into tight urban footprints. Presented by K-12 specialist, architect Meredith Sullivan will lead an interactive session on building up, instead of out. This presentation will help the audience truly understand the benefits to ‘building up’ when creating a K-12 environments. We’ll discuss why municipalities and communities often view ‘building up’ negatively, and how the odds are, no pun intended, stacked against the architect. Meredith will then reveal the truth behind the myth, explaining how this type of design can maximize building efficiency and how practicalities come from stacking functions and emphasizing flexibility. Results are felt throughout the learning community, from business officer budget savings to educators in close proximity to one another. Prepare to participate and use your problem-solving skills, as the presentation will be heavily interactive! Audience members will be given blocks and a site plan, encouraged to work together over program stacking and urban placemaking problems. By the end of this session, those involved in K-12 environments who oversee facilities, construction, leadership, innovation, and design thinking will understand how building up doesn’t have to compromise programming.

#1: Educate the school community, to make them more comfortable with this non-traditional style of building
#2: Understand the cost-benefit of building up instead of out.
#3: Balance conflicting site program including parking, loading, stormwater management, outdoor learning spaces, and recreation spaces
#4: Maximize building efficiency on a tight urban site.

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.

Educational Visioning: Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educationalleadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders – translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner.  

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



+1 480.391.0840
11445 E. Via Linda, Ste 2-440
Scottsdale, Arizona 85259 USA