“Are you sitting down for this?!” Critical Research Should Guide Interior Design


North Tower - 2nd Floor - Harbor

  • Primary Core Competencies: Assessment of the School Facility
  • AIA CEU: 1. 0 LU
  • Secondary Core Competencies: Educational Visioning


In 2017, a large Canadian school district saw a conference presentation on research which caused them to pause and consider a large secondary school project at the last hour. The team’s big picture goals were in motion and construction was almost complete – yet they saw a vision based on this new knowledge and had the courage to stop and change course with their furniture selection and interior design methodology. How often does that happen and how could interiors better support our vision of Next Generation Learning? This story and how it unfolded involves the school district team members (new principal, director of capital projects, and director of procurement) and their partnership with an architecture and interior design firm and research consultant to rethink and thus redesign the experience for the educators and the students. A panel discussion will: (a) tell the story, (b) share the process and the research insights guiding that process, (c) the design outcomes and reflections on timeline implications, (d) the challenges and lessons learned when working across the border, and (e) the next steps working towards a Research-Guided Design Principles protocol. 

Learning Objectives

OBJ #1  Develop an appreciation for how the research shared impacted the decision-making process and established a new vision.

OBJ #2  Understand the risks taken by the school team’s leadership to change course at the last minute when they saw a new vision impacted by research, and the recognize how the implications at varying steps of the design and construction timeline could impact the final learning environment.

OBJ #3  Recognize how a fast-paced solutions were identified and executed by a fully integrated team with one goal: to make the learning experience for students and educators fit the realities of a Next Generation Learning Environment.

OBJ #4  Holistically articulate the impact of interior design, research, and FF&E on teaching and learning in order to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders.

Lennie Scott-Webber, PhD, NCIDQ, AIA Affiliate, AIA/CAE, Owner/Principal, INSYNC: Education Research + Design

Sheila Hammond, Principal, , Ecole Salish Secondary School, Surrey School District #36

Noah Greenberg, AIA, LEED AP, Principal, DLR Group

Rick Deck, SCMP, Manager of Corporate Services, Surrey School District #36