Just as architects have a role to play in the creation of a building, they also have a role to play in the safety of it – especially schools. Schools are meant to be welcoming, trustworthy environments where students feel safe and where parents trust that their kids will be safe. Today, architects are highly aware of the violent threats schools across the country face every day. When it comes to the design of a new building, safety is the first priority, but what about older schools that have not been renovated and don’t have the funds to do so? Architects in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are making strides to shape school design policies to combat school violence.
AIA initiatives to fund school design
In 2018, AIA released a statement outlining their commitment to improving school design policies. Where We Stand: School Design & Student Safety addresses school violence and what needs to be done to make schools safer. The two main goals are:
- Making architectural and design services for schools an allowable use of funds within existing federal funding and grants
- Establishing a federal clearinghouse of resources on school design best practices for school officials, architects, and other design professionals to keep them informed
To create a standard of safety, AIA aims to develop these initiatives as a bipartisan project with U.S. Congress. Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for school safety, it is important the school design adapts to the differing and evolving concerns, while also creating a productive learning environment and being mindful of school budget.
In the statement, AIA supports architects and their communities by offering resources and knowledge in the following ways:
- Leading efforts at the local, state, and federal levels of government to update school design guidelines
- Supporting collaborative and continuing education to achieve safe school design
- Striving to make safe school design eligible for federal grants
- Establishing a federal clearinghouse on school design
While opposing sides are debating the access to firearms and mental health services to combat school violence, the needle is not moving quickly in either direction. What can be done now is school safety through the power of design.
Photo Credit: Architecture+. Milne Library Renovation, SUNY Oneonta