Inspiring Education: CFAF Hosts Tours of 21st C. School Design Exhibitions

CFAF Lead Design Educator Tim Hayduk introduces tour attendees to “The Best School in the World,” which highlights Finland’s progressive education system via seven exemplary schools.

Catherine Teegarden/Center for Architecture Foundation

Administrators from Horace Greeley High School and architects from Studios Architecture are guided through examples of other educational institutions in The Best School exhibition at the Center.

Eveline Chang/Center for Architecture Foundation

On 10.4.12, a diverse group of educators, design professionals, and the general public attended the Center for Architecture Foundation’s Guided Exhibition Tour of the Center for Architecture’s fall exhibitions, “The Edgeless School: Design for Learning” and “The Best School in the World: Seven Finnish Examples from the 21st Century.” Both exhibitions opened on 10.1.12, the inaugural date of Archtober, Architecture and Design month in New York City. Both exhibitions focus on innovative school design, including examples as local as Lower Manhattan and as far as Scandinavia.

Led by CFAF’s Lead Design Educator, Tim Hayduk, the tour began with an overview of “The Best School in the World” as a way to compare and contrast the two exhibitions. This exhibit not only presents handsome modern architectural settings, it frames several key reasons why Finnish schools have topped PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) and provides insight into the culture of Finnish Education. The nation holds education and teaching in very high regard, encourages life-long learning to all citizens in a non-competitive environment that does not emphasize testing as its go-to method of assessing student achievement.

The tour’s next stop was “The Edgeless School.” Curated by Tom Mellins with Edith Ackerman as Senior Research Consultant, this exhibit reconsiders the school in the age of “digital natives” where learning can happen virtually anywhere with the assistance of wireless technology. Teachers, too, take on a new role as facilitators in hands-on experiential learning. The audience was extremely interested in discussing the role technology will continue to play in learning. Video points of view by several contemporary educators present the importance of gaming, play and other non-traditional teaching methodologies. A salon-style discussion ensued in the Center for Architecture’s double height gallery space, where tour participants posed questions and shared experiences about the work presented in their professional lives.

STUDIOS Architecture, working with school administrators from Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, NY, attended a private tour of the exhibitions, also led by Tim Hayduk. The Chappaqua Central School District received a grant from the Chappaqua School Foundation for Studios to prepare a feasibility study and concept design for a state-of-the-art Learning Commons at Greeley. Their visit was an opportunity to study the two exhibitions, serving as a resource for schools looking to expand or change their physical plant to address technology and the change that it continuously brings.

CFAF will reprise its Guided Exhibition Tour of The Edgeless School on 11.16.12 from 12:00 – 1:00pm, and on 1.7.13 from 6:00 – 7:30 pm. The tour will also include a look at “Building Connections 2012,” CFAF’s annual exhibition of K-12 student design work, which opens on 11.15.12. For more information and to register, please visit