As Chicago Jewish Day School (CJDS) prepares to move into Phase 1 of their new campus, we hosted a workshop for 100 students to talk about their new school. One of the design drivers for the CJDS project is student ownership over the spaces they will live and grow in every day – it became clear to us that this includes the design process as well. The students’ excitement was palpable as we introduced them to our space, gave them a better idea of what architects and engineers do, and got them involved in the design of their new facility.

We also took the students through a design exercise to help them envision the spaces they will use on a day-to-day basis. We talked about how buildings make us feel, how we can invent the learning environments of the future and what architects need to think about when designing new spaces. We also discussed how we re-purpose existing buildings, the benefits of retaining and preserving a school’s history, and the challenges we can face in the design process. It was great to hear the students’ ideas and see their reactions to the school design.

The visit re-emphasized for us the importance of continual connection with the community, even when projects are in the midst of construction. The students left us with words of encouragement, signing our cafe wall with, “Keep up the great work!” More background on our work with CJDS can be found here for reference.