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Department of Interior Architecture & Product Design

2012-2013 K-State ARCC King Medal Winner: Erin Hurd, MIAPD, for master's thesis entitled "The Urban School: Education Desgin & It's Effect on Inner City Students

Erin Hurd Thesis

"The Urban School: Education Design & its Effect on Inner City Students"

The learning environment very much is “the third teacher,” or “the second curriculum.” Despite the abundant evidence that the environment in school buildings has a substantial effect on the health and learning of the students inhabiting it, thousands of schools across America, many of them in urban environments, are in unacceptable states. The intent of this project is to improve the educational environment and the quality of education for students attending a low performing high school in an impoverished, urban area of Kansas City, Missouri. While educators have been actively exploring and testing new teaching pedagogies and theories, sometimes-radical discoveries that change learning landscapes; the physical designs of learning environments have remained largely unchanged.

Research Objectives:

This project aims to position itself within the context of the educational reform currently taking place within the district, examining the factors causing problems within Northeast High School and finding unique solutions to improve the physical environment for students in this school. The current building, erected in the early part of last century, is reminiscent of classical institutional architecture, evoking abstract ideals of academia and success that are irrelevant to students who inhabit them, who see this kind of intellectual achievement as useless in our society and their struggling position in it. The redesign of the educational facility will ideally provide the 7th-12th grade students with optimized learning environments for their demographic, a safe place where they enjoy spending time during and after school hours, and a building relevant to their needs that fosters pride in the school and community culture.

The designer has adopted the evidence based design approach for this project including the following five steps:

  • Define evidence-based goals and objectives.
  • Find sources for relevant evidence.
  • Critically interpret relevant evidence.
  • Create and innovate evidence-based design concepts.
  • Develop a hypothesis. 

(The ARCC King Student Medal for Excellence in Architectural + Environmental Design Research is named in honor of the late Jonathan King, co-founder and first president of the Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC), this award is given to one student per ARCC member college, school, institute, or unit.

Selection of recipients is based upon criteria that acknowledge innovation, integrity, and scholarship in architectural and/or environmental design research.)