Green Design 

The Role of Communities in Designing Green Schools

community's always you know a criticalplayer and in all of our projects andand you know it gets off often asks youknow bus you know how how do you engagethe community or should we engage thecommunity and then I come I can'timagine doing a project without engagingthe community I mean these are thepeople that you know live in the placeyou know that we're working within youknow they know it better than anybodyelse and and so we like to actuallyengage them from the very beginning ofthe project any stakeholders in fact youknow because we're we're trying to learnyou know at the beginning and so ofcourse people that you know live in theenvironment you can help us learn veryquickly and sometimes what they'll do isthey'll tell us where not to go and whatthe sort of dangers are you know or thesacred ground or where the sacred groundis you want a project so thinking backyou may have seen our Stoddard schoolthere and it still sticks in my mind inone of the first meetings with acommunity thereI think the first statement was becareful of the trees it was a woodensite in the middle of a neighborhoodhere are heavily wooded site in theDistrict of Columbia so people thoughtit was very special because of that sortof woodland quality that it had so oknow we understand what the parametersare and you know for the design I havethat we should start to work with andyou know that makes our job that mucheasier to do if if we know you know youknow what we should be careful with andwhat new is really special you know tothe community to begin with but it alsothose kinds of things you know start tomake the design unique right rather thanjust sort of implementin the last building that you did and insome fashion back on that site and nowStoddart you know even the the plan ofthe building you know is deferential toyou know the the most significant andsignature trees you know on the site andso you can draw direct correlation fromyou know from one of the first sentencesthe the community told us to the thefinal product there and it's most simpleform but there's lots of other exampleslike at Dunbar High School you knowthere's such a rich history you know tothe first african-american high schoolin the country going back to the 1880sand so the alumni for example were stillin the community and and very activelyengaged in the design process thequestion was you know how do wecelebrate you know this this tremendoushistory and hundreds of you knowincredibly accomplished people that hadgraduated from that that institutionback into the architecture so that thebuilding in some ways represented thehistory and heritage of the place butyou know but wasn't a museum in someways say oh it's suggested to thestudents you know we're living in thebuilding now that you know you're partof this tradition and you know andyou're you're within this context andand you know if you play your cardsright you know ultimately you could becelebrated within the building you knowjust as these other people are too soit's sort of two very different examplesof input that came from the communitythat we were working within but that Ithink hada huge impact on the success and thequality of the designs you know thatcame forward and and then to even thinkabout another example we do a lot ofinternational schools as well and we'refortunate enough to work with a schooljust outside of Munich recently and oneof their key buildings or signaturebuildings is a building called theschloss which in German means castleyeah so you can imagine what thisbuilding looks like you know it's it'sfrescoes and goldleaf all over theinterior and so we were working on ourinitial workshop with the stakeholdersthere and trying to figure out well whatdo we do with a building like this youknow how to how does this inspire whatwe're trying to do because yeah clearlyyou know we're not doing Rococoarchitecture you know but there was ayoung student a fifth grader who'd nevercame up with the inspiration and shesaid you know well look you know thisbuilding's got these fabulous hugewooden staircases you know it's it's oneof the signature design elements youknow in the interior of the building youknow can we do something like that youknow in the new building and you know sothat's another one of those sort oflightning bolt moments when you'reworking with the community that saysabsolutely you know we can you knowabsolutely do something like that andyou know that again you know it's youknow one of those generative ideas youknow in design that you know you can seedirectly and the final product so so inmany ways you know those those are thekinds of things we're looking for andyou know it's you know help us inspirethe design and you know and where can wetake this that you know it's special oneunique

Sean O’Donnell, world-renowned green schools architect, discusses the role of communities in design a high performance building. He talks about the design process and how communities can have significant influence over the final design of a building.

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