As the winners of the 2013 Design is … Award Market Award, Shaw Contract Group winning firms interviewed as part of a section of Shaw Contract Group blog which will last a year. Throughout the year, readers can learn more about the 48 winning projects and the individuals who perform them. These are their stories.
DLR Group Architect, JaDee Harsma, talked to us about childhood art projects, transforming spaces, the future of education design.
When did you decide to pursue a profession in design?
I have always loved design and been passionate about it from a very young age, whether it is print and graphics or architecture and interiors. As a child I made one-of-a-kind cards and I remember in middle school, we had an art project to create a model home and design it with scraps of wallpaper, paint chips and carpet scraps. At the end of the project we gave them to the Kindergartners for doll houses. From then on I wanted to be a designer/architect. So in college, I first got a degree in graphic design and then continued on to get my Masters of Architecture (MArch).
What is your first memory of the project?
Visiting the site and seeing the large open warehouse and dreaming of the amazing possibilities after meeting with the client for the first time. Their energy was contagious!
What was the happiest moment of the project?
On the first day of school, I was there to give a tour of the space and heard multiple students come in and say ‘Oh my gosh, this is awesome’ over and over. It was great to see the passion and excitement for learning in their eyes and the pride they had for their new school.
How did you get into the mind of the client and understand what they wanted?
By listening and taking on their passion for blended learning and combining it with my passion for design. At the first meeting I could understand that the space needed to be more like a workplace environment with several breakout spaces to accommodate different types of learners and teaching styles. Also, innovation was their key focus, so a bright and energizing feel that fosters creativity was critical to the design.
Do you think this will be a new trend in education design (the open, collaborative and blended learning community)?
Definitely. Even in more traditional schools, we are seeing the desire for collaboration/breakout spaces and understanding the different learning styles so I think this concept is at the forefront of educational design.