Building Design for the New Alliance High School
Courses Digital Media Design I, US History
Content Area(s) Digital Media Design I, US History
Amy Taramasso, Catherine Volponi
Alliance HS @ Meek Campus
The Multiple Pathways to Graduation program will be housed in a new building that is currently in the middle of the design process. We devoted time each class meeting to checking in with students and included land acknowledgements on a regular basis to center our work. Students in this course learned about architectural and design concepts from our community partners at Your Street Your Voice and the architects who are designing the new school building, then took on the challenge of designing one specific space in the building, incorporating information they learned. They created diagrams to show how the space would be used and connected their designs to different design frameworks, such as trauma-informed design and the BlackSpace Manifesto. They learned about how designers choose materials and different aspects of sustainability in architecture. We included instruction in local history, including the indigenous people who were displaced and the white supremacist framework of Oregon’s founding that exacerbated inequality in the state and how that connects to the present. Students used their experience as students and the information they learned in the course to create a design for their space, explain their process, prepared presentations, practiced, and presented their work to a panel of local architects who then gave them feedback on their designs.
Diagrams, Presentations to panel of local architects
Common Core Standards
11-12.RH.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media in order to address a question or solve a problem.
ARDS07.01.03 Use various software programs to create, enhance, or revise a design.
ARDS04.01.01 Understand how design is impacted by needs, values, social patterns, and preferences.
HS.61 Analyze and explain persistent historical, social and political issues, conflicts and compromises in regards to power, inequality and justice and their connections to current events and movements.
HS.65 Identify and analyze the nature of systemic oppression on ethnic and religious groups, as well as other traditionally marginalized groups, in the pursuit of justice and equality in Oregon, the United States and the world.
In reflecting on this project, I would want other educators to know that this project was ultimately one that required an extraordinary amount of persistence and organization work, and that because we were doing it remotely, it was challenging to gauge how much students were engaged and to know what factors did or did not contribute to their relative engagement. I would also want to express that our expectations for what students would be able to create and the skills they would gain were different than what I imagined at the start. I was most surprised by the relative aplomb that students were able to show in presenting their work to the panel at the end; though we did our best to prepare them for the event, it was still I imagine shocking to have a bunch of unfamiliar adults suddenly there, so interested to hear them speak and share their work. If I am able to do a similar project in the future, I would (of course) do it in person, not remotely in the middle of a global pandemic, and I would incorporate more mini-lessons in Language Arts and/or Social Studies themes and skills throughout. I would also build in more time for students to measure real spaces, learn how to use and work in 3D architecture software. Because we incorporated so many ideas into the course, overall, I think that every student wound up gaining something different than their peers: while some were more interested in learning about the ancient and Native histories of the area, others were more excited about the kinds of materials and plants they wanted to incorporate in to the design, and others were more interested in other aspects of altogether.