Architectural Roadblocks Within The Classroom

Reading Summary #6

Transform, Interact, Learn, Engage; it sounds so familiar to us nowadays, because those are words that are being used so freely to describe our society’s necessity to adapt and move forward in our way of thinking and teaching. Transform, Interact, Learn and Engage; or better known as, “TILE”. It is a an acronym used to discuss the forward thinking and innovative learning centers being placed within the University of Iowa’s Campus’. Nowadays, everyone is looking for new ways to learn faster and gather information quicker than the person to their left or right. This has forced the world to adapt and start thinking of alternative learning styles that can help the new generation of students learn how they are meant to learn. The traditional class room was a blockade to the built environment of our classroom and required restructure for us to excel to our fullest potential. I mean, let’s be honest, how well do you pay attention in a classroom like this?



In this Journal of Learning Space, Vol 1, No 2; Sam Van Horne describes this necessity and backs up his claims based on factual evidence. Page 2, paragraph 2, he describes how even the size of the table made for the room is not by accident. In their findings, a table that is smaller than 7 feet would make students cramped but a table larger would promote table wide discussions. They were able to determine that a 7 foot wide table was the perfect size in diameter for promotion of collaboration and appropriate level of conversations.


In a day in age, where technology is advancing faster than we can keep it up; it is crucial that we seek these alternative atmospheres to maintain an edge on the learning curve and help develop students in a more modern sense rather than difficulty. Van Horne even explains this further on Page 5 under the section entitled, “Preparing Faculty to Use New Teaching Strategies: The Tile Institute Workshop”. They explain the intensive learning course and what each instructor must go through to help workshop their classroom into a cohesive course that utilized the new furniture. This, in my eyes, and I believe in the eyes of Van Horne, is the most important part of the TILE initiative. It is imperative that the seasoned instructors learn how to tailor their lectures to more of an activity sense to promote collaboration and an open learning environment with the common day student. It is a difficult bridge to gap, but a necessary one to ensure that the full benefits and resources are developed from the TILE classroom.

In comparison, Sam Van Horne is completely correct that the metamorphosis from a standard, Polaroid image of a classroom, to a more advanced collaborative and intuitive classroom is a necessity. We have the ability to shape, teach and develop the mind better than we ever had and with our leaps and bounds with technology it would be a shame not to do what is humanly necessary to achieve this feat. The research is there and it clearly shows that we (the vast majority) of students cannot learn in a maze of outdated architectural roadblocks within the classroom.

“All Together Now” – The Beatles

Reading Summary #5: Emily Bazelon “Making Bathrooms More Accommodating”

Historically, the world has always been a place that has been tailored to accommodating the male gender. We were simply put here to work, make money, and have a woman to support us in almost every other aspect of life. Now, more than ever, this is changing drastically. Woman, finally, have equal rights, and are on the verge of being treated exactly the same way as men always have been. The article by Emily Bazelon takes this a bit further and introduces our necessity to treat men, woman, AND non-gender identifying individuals the same way, in particular accommodating then in their needs of acceptance in the bathroom and other physical areas that are historically looked upon with no sort of grey area.

This article begins by noting that bathroom signage is the clearest visual marker of sexual difference. It is slowly being accepted to allow girls who identify as male to join male teams but allowing them in the male bathroom is another entirely different issue at hand (Bazelon lines 21-25). The main word used in this clear and apparent act of separation is “accommodation”. It stems from our early stages of civil rights movements, to allow African Americans to sit anywhere they please on a bus or use any water fountain/bathroom they deserve.



I believe the strongest statement made in this article is by, Mara Keisling, Co-Founder and Director of the national Center for Transgender Equality, and she summarizes her point that in order to have a civil society, it must start with accommodation. This was immediately interpreted by Bazelon that it is not the people who identify as strictly male or female due to our physical makeup/chromosomes but the non-gender identifying people that are forced to use the bathrooms pre-designated by society’s norms that have been doing the accommodation this whole time.

In summary, this article is wording perfectly, in my opinion. It takes a completely historical concept of gender separation and opens the world’s eyes up into the necessity to accept change in something that we never knew of in the past. People don’t choose to identify with the other sex; the same as someone cannot chose whom they fall in love with whether it’s hetero or homosexually. We must be forced to accept, or accommodate, differences in the world. Lastly, I think the article did lack a few chances of points of view from the opposing end. Although, it has many references from non-gender identifying people, I feel that a strong quote or approval from a gender specific adolescence could have really driven the point home in our ability to adapt to this fairly new concept of transgender or non-gender identifying humans.

Reading Summary #4: Kathleen G. Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwad – “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces”

Reading Summary #4: Kathleen G. Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwad “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces”


In today’s day and age, the human being is exposed to a high traffic volume of people, places and things. It has increasingly diminished our capacity to remained focus in the institution level on tasks at hand and has forced us, as students, to find ways to retain focus and trick our mind from mental fatigue. This article, by Kathleen School and Gowri Gulwad relates early campus landscape to current campus landscapes and how “attention fatigue” is rising. They also give us evidence in how a holistic approach to campus landscape will allow a more direct or indirect exposure to “nature” and inhibit our ability to remain focused for a longer period of time.


Kathleen and Gowri first start their claim by explaining to us how historically campuses were designed to be almost a community within a community. They explain how in the early years of universities, campus’ were a place where kids would have “safe havens” and direct exposure to nature. It was a place where they could continuously learn and maintain the proper mental energy to keep focus. This is a time where only the wealthy were predominantly found on college campuses. It worked for them, but now since the demographic has changed new ways of holistic thinking is necessary for adoption to adapt to the ways the current college student requires. Now, more than ever students are on all sides of the spectrum from first generation college goers, to even single parents battling multiple jobs and still finding time to commute from the suburbs for a mid-day class.

Fight Traffic to Make it to Class on Time

Fight Traffic and Busy Streets to Make it to Class on Time

This is why attention-fatigue is rising. Students, nowadays, do not have the same everyday “problems” that were once seen when institutions were first established. School and Gulwad explain how we need to loosely define “nature” to its respective audience to allow us to determine what direct or indirect type of attention can help explain the fatigue. Parents and kids are battling jobs and traffic in a bustle to reach some urban campus’ and then are expected to turn their brain off from a high rate of motion and quick thinking to sit in a chair for an hour and listen to a PowerPoint in a dark room where the outside isn’t visible; knowing in the back of their mind that they are going to have to battle these same hurdles once leaving class. This is the exact reason why safe-havens or holistic campus’ are crucial for the current student. They need an area of “freedom” that can help them see the beauty of the world and trick their mind into natural energy and help remain focused on the task at hand.


In conclusion, School and Gulwad, are completely right in that we need to re-evaluate campus landscapes to a holistic approach to welcome sustainability to the new day of college students. The current student, who is battling daily, the high-impact stresses of overpopulation, technology, work and traffic. College students need and require an area of mental freedom to de-stress and forget about the daily obstacles and allow the mind to breathe and let information flow smoothly. If we don’t start thinking about these types of architectural exclusion then it will make for a very difficult place to learn the lessons required to exceed in life.

Reading Summary #3: Suzanne Tick – “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society”

Reading Summary #3: Suzanne Tick – “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society”


This article is a synopsis of the Gender Revolution and the spectrum that we have traveled with accepting gender equality in society. Suzanne Tick explains how within the past few years the world has started to open up to the idea of Gender equality and now people/organizations are designing things in the built environment certain ways to help co-exist people that do not confirm to their birth gender and instead take it upon themselves to decide which way to identify. In this article, Suzanne Tick, shows how the environment, specifically corporate and institutionally, was predominantly designed in the past and where she feels it is moving towards in the very near future. This is portrayed in ways of how the office can be set-up, questions on applications for colleges, fashion/beauty scene and even gender specific bathroom signage.


This approach is a very forward thinking concept that I believe is going to play an influential role in the thinking of corporate decision making in the near future. Suzanne mentions within the idea of making people feel accommodated. Now, more than ever, this is such an important facet of the way companies operate on a daily basis. Even to the institutional level, per Suzanne Tick, there are even colleges that do not require you to specify your gender on the application. It is astonishing that something that was so black and white back in the day is now taken into question as soon as it is brought up.

In comparison, the confusion that many in America experience within themselves when it comes to accepting this new wave of thinking/doing is in the beauty and fashion scene. Suzanne explains how the idea of male looking male and female looking female is obsolete. It is such a mixture of the two that it is somewhat impossible to know the gender of the model. Somewhat an exact measurement of what Gender Equality is. To me this is the ability to accept someone for who they and where they want to be in life and not strictly on the way that they were born and why they shouldn’t stray from the fact that they are male or female.

In comparison, this article really hit home. In my career, as an Account Executive for a commercial furniture dealership, I am experiencing these exact hurdles in our recent projects. Design firms are now building the built environment to honor an open plan system that allows for collaboration from all different departments within one large area. This is atypical to the past isolated cubicle format that every corporate office has predominantly approached. The most decisive point of this new birth of gender equality is that she comes from Teknion. Being from the commercial dealer industry, I know that Teknion is a new eastern type model of office landscape and their product/ideology promote exactly what Suzanne is portraying in this article. They have gained major traction in the US Market and just like Teknion is started to emerge and become a force in the market, so is Gender equality.