About the Classroom Design Forum...

After working with various architects while designing classrooms at Purdue University in West Lafayette IN for forty-some years, I have found that many architects don't realize that really basic factors like floor-to-floor distance (thus maximum projection screen height), type of HVAC system (thus student-to-student speech masking levels), room width vs. depth (thus the size of projection screen and angle of viewing) determine the success of classroom designs.
Unfortunately, many architects don't begin planning for these "see, hear" aspects until after the design development drawings are handed over to the client.

Planning for good classroom design is not very complicated... it just needs to be done very early in the planning process. So, I thought, why not make the information available free to anyone interested. And... by receiving e-mails from teachers, architects, school board members and even parents, the CDF website has been able to expand to cover many areas of interest.

If there is one overarching theme that I try to get across in the various sheets, it's to set up a mock room to test your classroom design during the design development stage... way before the floor-to-floor dimensions are set.

+Sit in a seat that will be the furthest from the proposed screen size and see if you can read the text from a technical website like the Merck Manual, HowStuffWorks.com, About.com, etc. If you can't read the text without straining, the screen is probably too small. You may be amazed at how large a screen needs to be for web-based text and diagrams.

+With a properly sized screen, line yourself up behind a couple rows of people of your height and see if you can read the info at the very bottom of the screen. If not, the ceiling height is too low.

+Test the angle that students will be off the centerline of the projection screen by projecting the real material that will be used (not just general landscape pics or talking head videos). See for yourself what size text, or what math symbol detail, you can read from the ends of the proposed seating rows.

+Visit rooms that have typical in-room fancoil units and sit next to an operating unit set on the proper speed for summer. Observe if you can understand a typical student with a soft voice across the room without straining. If not, the proposed fancoil units will be too loud.

Compare prismatic lens, parabolic louver and indirect/direct light fixtures for the overall feel they give the room. Does it feel light and airy, or more cave-like with lots of wall shadows, as would be appropriate for a trendy clothes store at the mall. Plan what light fixtures will need to be turned off during multimedia presentations to avoid washing out the blacks in the image, but which can also stay on over the students for note-taking. Make the controls easy to understand for the instructor.

Best Regards! -Ron Baker

A feature of every page is the letter box button

to allow you to record what you've personally learned about classroom design... which we can then adapt to the CDF website, for the mutual advancement of classroom designs.

And of course, feel free to ask any questions about upcoming projects that you are working on that don't seem to be addressed by the current pages! We have contacts with various design professionals who may be able to give guidance.