The urban space is an inspiration for how buildings can facilitate interaction. One example is the Frank R. Conwell School Campus in Jersey City, New Jersey, by Gruzen Samton and IBI Group. "Over and over you see that the connection to the street is important, whether it's a collection of buildings or a single building it's conceived of in an urban way," Mellins says. "This open area becomes like a main street that you can look across and see what's happening." This allows for both easy planning of events and chance encounters. Photo by James D’Addio." /dwell-photo photoId="6133532723861237760" caption="REED Academy in Oakland, New Jersey, is a school for children with autism spectrum disorders. Though it is located in a suburban office park, it, too, utilizes the best parts of city life to enhance learning in terms of socialization and positive interaction within the broader society. "It was clear that the idea of the street encounter still resonates even if it’s in a suburban environment," Claire Weisz, principle of WXY Architecture explains. "Somehow human beings still think as if they are in villages." Photo by Paul Warchol." /dwell-photo photoId="6133532725501210624" caption="One unique aspect of REED Academy is that rather than having large hallways with monotonous rows of doors one walks through the school along street-like paths that include a series of alcoves. "The idea is that as you pass through the hallway it becomes a different space," Weisz says. This helps students at REED slowly become comfortable with moving through a building and with interacting socially. "It could be that a student does a store for a day, or someone puts something special there. We had to do something that didn’t give too many clues, because part of it is teaching the kids the grid of a building," Weisz further explains. "It’s a place where everyone feels safe and accepted, but also they can learn to cope with more stimulus. It’s this thing where the building is used to build capacity. It made me think: This is not so different than you and I." Photo ©Albert Vecerka/Esto." /dwell-photo photoId="6133532727434895360" caption="The bowstrings of several arches extend beyond the central space, providing ample amounts of natural light. "The central space is a kind of town square," Mellins says. "And what you learn in a town square, or can learn and observe, is how people interact."" /dwell-photo photoId="6133532728722546688" caption="Many of the schools represented in Edgeless are for students requiring different methods of education, from an emphasis on the arts or teaching those with special needs. The possibilities of learning in new or different ways creates opportunities for new spaces to assist in that learning.
"All of a sudden your teacher isn’t teaching a classroom of kids. The classroom is just a place that the teacher and student go to periodically during the day when they need to be there," Weisz explains. "This is a school that’s designed around a way to teach, not a school that was designed because they needed a place to house people." Photo ©Albert Vecerka/Esto." /dwell-photo photoId="6133532731423567872" caption="Part of the concept of Edgeless-ness includes exploring the outside and nature within a city, further expanding what a classroom can be. At the Rogers Marvel designed Stephen Gaynor School in New York, students take advantage of green spaces. Photo ©David Sundberg/Esto." /dwell-photo photoId="6133532734238056448" caption="St. Albans School in Washington, DC, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is located on a beautiful campus in the shadow of the Olmsted-designed National Cathedral. Facing the challenge of fitting in within this existing, historic space, the architects create paths on the roof and underneath the buildings that "allow for a meandering through the campus" in order to "take on a quality of a pilgrimage in the shadow of the Cathedral," Mellins says. Photo ©Robert Polidori." /dwell-photo photoId="6133532736536424448" caption="Part of being Edgeless is in the way a school fits within a community, especially in an urban environment. The Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in Queens, New York, thrives in a bustling area of Astoria. "The school gets so much out of being in that lively neighborhood, and that neighborhood gets more lively because of the presence of the school. There's a symbiosis," Mellins says. "The most dramatic translation of edgeless-ness is literal transparency. You can see the ballet students at the bar from the street." School designed by Ennead Architects. Photo by ©Aislinn Weidele/Ennead Architects.