Professor researches architecture of The Salisbury School

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Syracuse University professor Terrance Goode went back to kindergarten recently.

Goode, an associate professor in the university’s School of Architecture, researches effective children’s learning environments, specifically the open plan school movement of the 1970s, and made a trip to the Eastern Shore to visit The Salisbury School’s Lower School.

Designed by the award-winning firm Hardy, Holzman and Pfeiffer Associates of New York, The Salisbury School Lower School was one of the earliest schools built specifically with the open plan approach as its guiding inspiration.

Today, aside from the addition of a few doors to temper the volume of enthusiastic children, a few more classrooms to accommodate growth, and a lot more state of the art technology, the unique building remains largely unchanged.

“An open plan school building works,” said Lower School head Debbie Wessels, “when the sense of shared responsibility for learning between the students and teachers is strong.

“Academic rigor and creativity thrive where a child’s desire to achieve is based on internal motivation, personal responsibility, and cooperation with peers,” she said. “This building is the perfect physical environment for our youngest learners in that respect.”

No less architecturally significant though built decades later, the TSS middle and upper school buildings share many of same successful elements in their design. Among them, classrooms without doors, multi-use flexible gathering spaces, and ample natural light.

The buildings, and the way in which students and teachers use them, are ideal for TSS’s cornerstone philosophy of experiential learning.

“Our physical campus is unique but not simply for design’s sake,” said Ed Cowell, TSS headmaster.  “It was part of the deliberate educational vision of our founders in 1970 and remains a key element of our proven student success today.”

In the spirit of experiential learning, Goode was excited by the prospect of future collaboration with TSS faculty and students to further explore the architectural significance of The Salisbury School campus as the school prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020.

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