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The Integrated Approach at Sandy Hook School: Designing for Security and Socio-Emotional Learning

The Integrated Approach at Sandy Hook School: Designing for Security and Socio-Emotional Learning

The tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 inserted school security into the daily conversation of people both within and outside of the professional realms of architecture, security design, and education. Today that discourse challenges  architects to design great schools that provide healthy, productive learning environments that allow students to flourish. As architects, we are qualified to provide holistic design strategies which can provide for safer schools and mitigate a range of issues around violence that threaten our schools today – while still fulfilling our central mission in creating inspiring environments that will enhance the learning experience for our future generations.

The impact of these horrific events on school climate is staggering. Even though the vast majority of students don’t have direct experience with school shootings, the trauma has a ripple effect: it’s now considered a best practice in American public schools to have written protocols or simulation drills for how to proceed in an active shooter situation. We must now accept the responsibility as architects to design our new schools to mitigate the effects of these violent acts and provide an environment where students and teachers can thrive and feel secure. We also have a significant stock of existing facilities that need to be evaluated and retrofitted. This work will require significant support and resources that go beyond the architecture, engineering and construction communities.

  • Through the example of the inspiring design of the new Sandy Hook School, attendees will learn best practices on:
  • How to conduct an inclusive, broad-based engagement process to foster community consensus and creative collaboration.
  • How school security is achieved using the 4 D’s and CPTED principles of design.
  • Why a focus on socio-emotional learning is congruent with school security concerns and can be achieved simultaneously to provide for inspiring learning environments.
  • How architects can talk about our work to create better understanding of the impacts of our built environment on individuals and communities.

Jay M. Brotman, AIA
Managing Partner at Svigals + Partners

Hailing from Texas, Jay matriculated from the School of Architecture of the University of Texas and joined Svigals + Partners in 19   With more than 40 years of professional experience, Jay has managed numerous projects for a wide variety of clients, ranging from small office renovations for startup biotech firms to the 160,000 s.f. Park Street Clinical Laboratory Building in New Haven. He has directed more than 200 laboratory renovations for the Yale School of Medicine and served as consultant to the Queen Mary University of London on the development of their $35 million biotechnology incubator center.

Jay has been leading the planning and design of the firms’ broad spectrum of educational facilities – from early childhood through graduate level learning and research environments.   Jay’s commitment to design excellence, combined with his ability to orchestrate an inclusive collaborative design process, results in built environments that are functionally responsive, contextually sensitive, and inspiring places to inhabit.  As Partner-in-charge of the new Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, these skills were employed to balance enhanced security measures with an inspiring school design to create an open and inviting public facility.

Jay has spoken extensively about the “Creative Engagement” process that Svigals + Partners employs to foster community consensus for designs that are both physically secure and emotionally supportive.  Speaking engagements include the AIA National Conference; the 11th International Summit on Emergency Disaster Planning for Colleges, Universities and K-12 Schools; and the recent Society for College and University Planners National Conference.  This past October 2018 Jay was engaged by the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education to testify before the President’s Federal Commission on School Safety, and in March 2019 he also participated in the AIA Capitol Hill Day to address School Security Engagements.

Julia McFadden, AIA
Associate Principal at Svigals + Partners

Following an undergraduate degree in Theatre Arts and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Minnesota, Julia pursued post-graduate work at the Institute for Public Art + Design and two years of study with the Wind & Water School of Feng Shui, becoming a certified practitioner in 2010.
Joining Svigals + Partners in 2008, Julia became the K12 Education Sector Leader and served he Engineering & Science University Magnet School, a 122,000 SF, project-based, grades 6-12 STEM school, completed in February 2017; and the Sandy Hook School, an 86,000 SF, PreK – 4 replacement school which opened in the fall of 2016.

Over her 20 years of architectural practice, Julia has created meaningful places through She has developed particular expertise in facilitating and leading community workshops to establish design themes and aspirations that are manifested in coherent and inspiring environments.   Recent work includes planning for aesthetic improvements and place-making across the residential campus for the University of Hartford; the facilitation of a design process with a group of New Haven mothers to establish a memorial Healing Garden to victims of gun violence; and an interdisciplinary Innovation Center for the University of New Haven, now under construction.

Julia has spoken and written widely about the Svigals + Partners process of “Creative Engagement,” which inspires unique designs reflecting community identity and pride. She co-presented “Crossroads of Sustainability and Security for Sandy Hook School” at Greenbuild; was the keynote speaker for the Safe Schools Taskforce session at the A4LE LearningSCAPES Conference; and she wrote the article “See Me, Teach Me, Heal Me” for Architecture Boston magazine.