Design For Learning
The Louisiana Superdome looks like a giant concrete mushroom that has somehow sprouted in the middle of New Orleans. Home to the Saints and the site of five Super Bowls, the dome, like most sports stadiums, merely takes up space--in this case, a great deal of space--when it's not being used for football games or the occasional Celine Dion concert. So when architect Steven Bingler, whose 43rd-floor office overlooks much of the Crescent City, gazes down at the massive arena, he sees... potential . "Why not put a school in the Superdome?" he asks, quite seriously. "Do you know how many kids could be turned on by a really innovative sports and fitness curriculum that could be developed there?"
He points to another building below. "That's City Hall," he says. "Why not put a school there? How about in a zoo? Or a farm? We've got some empty space right here in this building. I like to ask, Where is a place that is not good for a school?"
Bingler is a leading proponent of taking education out of school buildings-and a chief critic of the factory model, which has long influenced the way schools are designed. According to Bingler, most new school buildings--even the ones with high-tech media centers and movable walls--are simply modified versions of the schools built in the early part of the century. Those buildings, many of which are still in use today, were known for long corridors and self-contained, one-size-fits-all classrooms. They were...
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