How To Fix Urban School Design And Development

Former California State Architect Steven Castellanos outlines the changes that would be required to change how schools are designed and built if they are to become centers of communities.
June 29, 2006, 1pm PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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Steven Castellanos formerly served as the California State Architect and currently serves as one of California's delegates to the board of directors of the American Institute of Architects. From his extensive experience designing and overseeing public projects and working with the Sacramento bureaucracy, Mr. Castellanos knows firsthand the challenge of building neighborhood centered schools and especially of conforming schools to California's necessary, but strict, safety standards.

But, as Mr. Castellanos explains in this interview with the nonprofit group New Schools, Better Neighborhoods ( ), uniform standards need not constrain local initiatives to design innovate joint use schools that leverage funding and better serve children's learning and health needs.

"Being smart about our school building investments, I believe, now depends on reforming the underlying government infrastructure which controls the approval of bond expenditures. Question: Has the size of the school marketplace in California outstripped the state's capacity to serve that need? I think it has. The multi-billion dollar marketplace that schools represent in California cannot be served any longer using the same tools that were generated decades ago. It wasn't until the late 1990s when we saw the first billion-dollar bond program, and since then the voters have been incredibly generous and have understood the value of schools and education to the future of the state. We have to make sure we optimize bond resources, and the state has to be willing to look at its own regulatory infrastructure â€" how the bond program is administered, how construction is administered â€" and support decision making at the local level better than it has in the past."

Thanks to David Abel

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Published on Sunday, June 25, 2006 in New Schools, Better Neighborhoods
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