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Sites of Learning Design Charrette
Winter and Spring 2000

This project consisted of a graduate architecture seminar during winter quarter to plan a week-long interdisciplinary design charrette for the first week of spring quarter.  The goal of the charrette  was to create informal learning opportunities at 12 community landmarks (sites of learning) and link them to the schools via pedestrian pathways.

To understand children's perceptions of the city, students in the pre-charrette seminar asked fifth graders at all three of Tukwila's elementary schools to draw cognitive maps of their neighborhood.  The maps suggested that children engage in little unstructured outdoor play, and that their view of the city is primarily from the window of a car or bus.  Although freeways and commerce dominate their drawings, they also include the mountains, clouds, and airplanes that they see at a distance.

As a precursor to generating ideas for their schoolyards, the children drew an ideal learning environment.  Initially they created mega-visions comparable in scale to the shopping center that dominates the city.  However, eventually the children developed practical proposals for their schoolyards, which they presented at the beginning of the charrette.

During the charrette, interdisciplinary teams of artists, architects, industrial designers, landscape architects, and urban planners developed proposals for linking Tukwila's three elementary schoolyards to city landmarks.  Adults and children from the Tukwila school community provided input, with a total of about 200 people participating.

The outcome of the charrette included proposals that enhance children's place identity, link school and community, use school sites as places of discovery, and foster ecological awareness and restoration.  The proposals  were exhibited at the Seattle International Children's Festival in Seattle Center and were also presented at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Museum of Design’s Summer Institute.

Graduate research assistants for this project included John Ambrosio (education), Jim Borgford-Parnell (education), Brendan Connolly (architecture), and Sein Dee Konieczny (education).

Click here for a complete description of the Sites of Learning Charrette.