Jamieson Elementary School | Brainstorming Event
UHC was contacted by J.E.F.F., the parent, teacher-funded non-profit benefiting Jamieson Elementary, to help them facilitate a community brainstorming event. The purpose of the event was to devise a new campus plan for Jamieson Elementary. Modeled after the charrette UHC designed and facilitated for, and in partnership with, Goethe Elementary in Chicago’s Logan Square, the final design and brainstorming event relied on crucial community involvement for its success. The weekend-long brainstorming event culminated into a holistic design of the entire campus which J.E.F.F. is using to secure funding and additional support.
UHC has already started to help Jamieson with the schoolyard installation. We designed the entrance area landscaping and participated in a planting day with parents in May 2012 - Creating a beautiful space for kids to enjoy while they wait to be picked up at the end of the day. Groundbreakers’ teen workers installed new playground equipment in summer 2012. Next steps are getting even closer as community excitement builds over the positive changes already made!
Brainstorming Process with the event attendees
UHC is only prepared to provide a design once we understand the specific needs of each user and in what ways they need the playground to serve their everyday uses. After that is established, the UHC design team is able to add their knowledge of agriculture used as a teaching tool, stormwater management, and sustainable design sensibilities to round out the final design.
UHC’s charrette process is designed to document every bit of data collected along the way so it can be synthesized and utilized to create a comprehensive design solution that the client, J.E.F.F., can utilize to garner additional community support, funds, and serve as an eventual spring point for the final design.
Prior to the brainstorming and charrette event held at Jamieson Elementary School on February 11, 2012, J.E.F.F. distributed surveys to get a better understanding of how the community feels about the schoolyard, how it’s used and how it can be improved. Nearly 200 surveys were returned and provided us with a headstart on the weekend.
Over the course of 2 hours, the community was asked to respond to questions that allowed the designers to learn more about the schoolyard and how the community feels about it. The process was designed to allow the attendees to move around the room, engage in conversation with one another and the designers. The free flow process fostered free flow thoughts. The results helped the designers better understand who uses the schoolyard and in what ways, how the current schoolyard functions, how it fails, how it succeeds, and what the schoolyard could be with careful planning and design. This inclusive event was translated in Spanish, Vietnamese, Arabic, and Urdu. Invitations were sent to community business owners, teachers, neighbors, and local government representatives. Special consideration was given to the younger children by giving them a place to sit and draw their dream schoolyard and vote on their favorite schoolyard activities and equipment.
With special thanks to Nancy Plaskett, engaged neighbor and Associate Vice President of Community, Student and Educator Programs at Chicago Children’s Museum for supplying UHC with images, information, and support for the preparation of the brainstorming session.
The provocation of frank discussion led to a comprehensive list of feelings, thoughts, and ideas surrounding improvement of the schoolyard. The attendees’ feedback was resoundingly aligned. We were able to quickly categorize and organize the thoughts put on paper to create a design guide from which to begin drawing
After an intense hour of synthesizing the community’s thoughts, several teachers, parents, and Principal Baughman returned to the design table alongside UHC’s designers to aid in the development of the master plan. This dedicated design time with the future users of the schoolyard gave us an opportunity to stay accountable to the process that preceded the design. From the synthesis and focused discussion with a smaller group of users, we were able to flush out the overriding features that would drive the overall design o f the schoolyard within the bounds of the property line.
1 - SOFTEN THE SITE
2 - RUNNING TRACK AND MEANDERING PATH
3 - PROVIDE A STRONG ENTRANCE INTO THE SCHOOLYARD
4 - BRING THE PLAY EQUIPMENT CLOSER TO THE BUILDING
5 - CREATE SEPARATE PLAY AREAS FOR THE DIFFERENT AGE GROUPS
6 - CREATE A CENTRALIZED PLAZA WITH MULTIPLE FUNCTIONS
7 - THE SCHOOLYARD NEEDS TO ACCOMMODATE THE MOST WIDELY PLAYED SPORTS
8 - ADD SAFETY FEATURES THAT ENHANCE THE EASE OF USE AND BEAUTY OF THE SCHOOLYARD
9 - STORMWATER MANAGEMENT: IMPROVE SITE DRAINAGE
Led by the 9 major design principals we were able to establish a master plan with the necessary design features to solve the major problems as defined by the community. The images below represent a schoolyard that the entire community could be proud of, feel safe in, explore, and admire.
Jamieson Master Plan
The Master Plan Zones
For more detail, view UHC’s final presentation.