Metropolis Magazine recently showcased Malcolm X College and thought leadership from CannonDesign as part of a special feature focused on community colleges. Charles Smith and Jim Jankowski provided insights on the project, while and Carisima Koenig gave background on trends impacting community colleges to supplement the piece. In addition to appearing in the print and online editions of the magazine, the piece was also promoted via Metropolis’ newsletter.

The full article can be read online, and below is a snippet of the Malcolm X feature:

Community Colleges Are the Next Frontier for Bold Architecture

With major architecture firms getting involved, these formerly neglected institutions are having a design renaissance—and showing us how design could transform the American education system.

The architect and the college president were observing their brand-new facilities coming alive. It was the early autumn of 2016 and students were filing into the spacious day-lit atrium for the first time. The pair watched as a mother crossed the threshold, looked around, and started dancing. “This is the place where my baby will go!” she exclaimed.

“We live for those kinds of moments,” confides Charles Smith, the architect from Cannon Design who, with project director Jim Jankowski, helped shape Chicago’s Malcolm X College into the jig-inducing, awe-inspiring campus it is today.

Malcolm X is a community college geared to aspiring health-care professionals—and it has some remarkable statistics attached to its name. According to its interim president, David Sanders, about 92 percent of its nursing students pass their licensure exam on the first try. The college led its district in enrollment gains last year. Its graduation rates have doubled since 2015. And last year, it opened a state-of-the-art campus (designed by Cannon Design and Moody Nolan), complete with ambulatory and surgical simulation centers, mixed-use study spaces, cafés, and computer stations.

Malcolm X is just one of many community colleges across the country that have, in the past five years or so, opened new buildings or campuses designed by nationally renowned architecture firms. The uptick in development can be explained by a variety of causes: the aftereffects of increased enrollment in the years following 2009, when the recession inspired many to return to school; President Obama’s 2015 promise to make two years of community college free (so far, only the states of Oregon, Tennessee, and New York have followed through on a large scale); the growth of industries, such as health care and renewable energy, that require a steady stream of skilled workers; and the simple reality that many community colleges have midcentury campuses that don’t suit the needs of a 21st-century institution.