Our team partnered with the Baltimore Curriculum Project, a nonprofit charter school foundation that operates five schools in Baltimore City. Our initial meetings were with Alison Perkins-Cohen, the Executive Vice President of BCP, and Rhonda Richetta, the Principal of the City Springs School. We learned that BCP uses a very closely tracked curriculum in their schools that?s based on direct instructional interaction between teacher and student, and that their lesson plans are synchronized and coordinated across their schools. This allows students, faculty, parents, and administrators to form a community of learners, with a growing common knowledge base and a shared vision for education. Education at BCP schools is research based, and relies heavily on the continuous collection and evaluation of data from the classroom. The students themselves are beginning to use this data to set their own regular goals for achievement, and are able to motivate themselves by watching their own progress. These methods have enabled BCP to continually meet or exceed goals set by the Baltimore City School system, more than tripling rates of State Reading Test Proficiency.
In a workshop with students at the City Springs School, we introduced them to a few of the different drawing methods that architects use, and discussed the issues of space, geometry, light, and materials that architects are concerned with. We worked with the students as they made drawings of their classroom space, many of them were especially interested in representing the lists of daily goals posted in the classroom, the storage space and shelves, the board, and the windows.
We were interested in integrating BCP?s emphasis on research, data, and interaction into our own goals for an architecture that can have a measurably positive effect on the people who use it everyday. Defining learning as the potential for making connections to the larger world, we found an opportunity for an architectural intervention at the classroom?s aging, outdated and inefficient window system: the literal interface between the space of education and the larger environment. We created a diagram illustrating the various functions of the existing window wall as a series of filters for light, air, sound, views, and information.
Our proposal is for a system of multi-functioning, off-the-shelf components that, when combined, reorganize the window wall into a screen that acts like a machine for interacting with the outside world. Through teleconferencing, data overlays, and side-by-side comparisons between the skyline of Baltimore and other cities around the globe, the students of City Springs are able to link their own learning experience to students in other countries. This kind of data display and feedback also enables the students to track their own goals as a class, and as individuals. Additionally, the Window Wall also allows the students to regulate their own immediate physical environment, fine tuning the light, air, and acoustics of their space in order make the most of their connection to these other, larger systems.