Over the past six months, MKThink and RoundhouseOne have been collaborating with the San Francisco City Planning Department to monitor and evaluate one block of Market Street during the San Francisco Market Street Prototyping Festival. The team designed, tested, and installed a network of sensors to detect the change in the volume of people on Market Street due to the festival. In order to create a robust network, the team coordinated with city officials, members of the local business district, retailers, and utility providers to optimize sensor placement locations. Once installed, the sensors detected mobile devices that have the wireless signal activated. Devices were used as a proxy for people, meaning each device is an indication of one person on the street. Using this data, the team will be able to calculate the number of people on the sidewalk at any given time, the dwell time of each individual device (i.e. the duration of stay), and the path of travel for most devices. In addition to collecting this information during the days of the festival, the sensors will collect data for two weeks following the event so that the team will have baseline or “regular day” data to compare against. This analysis will allow MKThink, the San Francisco, Planning Department, and the Yerba Buena Community Benefit District to understand the level to which the festival increased foot traffic on Market Street.
MKThink is working with the City of San Francisco to help re-establish Market Street as the premier cultural, civic and economic center of SF. We recently deployed 7 sensor devices at nodes around the ‘Whispering Dishes’ on 4th and Market to investigate pedestrian use patterns. This will help MKThink better understand and analyze the interactions between people and their urban environments as well as aid us in our quest to develop tactful and innovative strategies for revitalizing public space. The Better Market Street Prototyping Festival is Thursday April 9th through Saturday April 11th. If you find yourself walking downton on Market Street, stop and have a look!
On Thursday, March 26, MKThink hosted its second panel in the “Transforming the Built Environment for Education” series, this time choosing to focus the discussion on the dynamic between physical and virtual learning spaces. We brought together educators working across the spectrum of learning, and to students of all ages including K-12 and higher education.
Prompted by questions from MKThink Senior Strategist Allan Donnelly, the discussion centered on how the digital realm has amplified and made more transparent the cycle of thinking regarding education. Lessons learned are no longer limited to the temporal and spatial constraints of the classroom, but rather are constantly provoked and questioned by students long after traditional lessons are over.
Panelist David Meckel, Director of Facilities for California College of the Arts (CCA), when asked initially about this new dynamic, noted, “no eighteen year old student would make a differentiation between digital and physical. At this point, they’re entirely enmeshed.”
“Technology shouldn’t be isolated to the lab,” echoed Amy Burvall, who added that from her twenty-year experience as a k-12 teacher,
“students are better served by going out into the world and making a movie than they are shooting one in the confines to the classroom.”
-Amy Burvall Vice President of EdgeMakers Academic Affairs
This isn’t to say that the physical environment in which students and faculty interact isn’t important; rather, it places more importance on an institution’s interpretation of which spaces are crucial to social and emotional education.
“We believe in the residential,” added Mike Wang from the Minerva Project, a new, accredited degree program that is founded on a model where students cohabitate but whose campus is the urban city environment itself. “We partner with the SF Symphony for a music class, or go see Ai Wei Wei at Alcatraz to see an installation piece. But students live and cook together so they can form bonds and develop interpersonal skills.”
“Relationships are more important than the room,” added Amy Burvall, again placing emphasis on the notion that the connection to the outside world is key in getting students to experience life outside of their smartphones and computers.
“Technology is a great way to share knowledge outside of school,” commented David Meckel, “so students should be encouraged to continue the discourse.”
To close the event, questions from the audience probed at these notions as they translate across grade levels, including how district educators can glean similar lessons from their higher education counterparts, and vice-versa.
Many guests continued the conversation well after the panel closed, eager to share their perspectives on the dynamic between digital and physical environments.
Watch the panel in full for yourself below, and sign up for our newsletter on the homepage for further events from MKThink!
On Thursday, September 25, MKThink hosted an inspiring panel discussion examining how schools must evolve alongside today’s quickly changing curriculum, technology and students. We brought together folks from very different teaching institutes, to discuss how the brick and mortar schools that students enter every day should be seen as more than just a place to house learning, but as a living breathing part of the curriculum.
One of the first questions from MKThink Principal and moderator Nate Goore sparked a discussion about buildings influencing student motivation, creativity, and inspiration. Scott Doorley, Creative Director, and Scott Witthoft, Director of the Environments Collaborative of the d.school Stanford University, chuckled and equated the d.school walls to looking similar to the walls of a third grade classroom where finger-paint and macaroni art are proudly on display.
“The buildings reflect the current state of work. Ambient connections can happen when buildings allow people to demonstrate their progress.”
-Scott Witthoft, Environments Collaborative, d.school @ Stanford University
Although it conjures up a comical image of elite, adult students admiring the finger-paint artwork of their fellow students, Doorley stressed the importance of students being able to see more than just their own project.
“It’s about putting students in a space where the focus is on what they are collectively creating rather than receiving,” said Doorley.
It’s beneficial for students to see how their fellow students tackled the same problem, often coming up with a vastly different solution. When the cloak is removed from what other classmates have created, students can begin to interact with, question and understand their classmates’ way of thinking.
“The buildings reflect the current state of work,” echoed “Witthoft. “Ambient connections can happen when buildings allow people to demonstrate their progress.”
Dr. Nick Cofod, Assistant Headmaster and Upper School Director at the Town School for Boys chimed in regarding the new Town School building, which was similarly developed. Cofod added, “the building is providing a framework for questions and inquiries by the students to the teachers. The building itself becomes a catalyst for students to ask more questions, ultimately learning more.”
A shift in the conversation came when the socio-economic disparity between schools, even those within the same system, came up in a discussion surrounding the state of national standardized tests. Said Tim White, Deputy Chief of Facilities Planning and Management of the Oakland Unified School District, “a 60-watt light bulb, overhead projector, chalkboard, even an Apple IIe is not going to cut it. [Test] outcomes are influenced by environments. You can’t expect a kid to be competitive if he doesn’t have the same access as that given in a more affluent community.”
White also acknowledged that emotional and social issues often plight and affect children from poorer families, and that dedicated unique building space can help tackle those problems.
Doorley agreed that learning is impaired, “if [students] are not in the right emotional state.” He continued, “they might as well not be in the building.”
“We’re a full service community district that serves the whole child,” said White. “And some kids come to us with social and emotional issues, so we have spaces for that too.” As space for education continues to evolve rapidly over the next decade, it seems that student health and wellness is a topic that will remain at the forefront of educational design and built environment transformation for years to come.
Most attendees lingered after the panel ended to further discuss how schools can evolve in today’s fast-paced, technology-led environment. In the same light, to continue the conversation, we’ll be hosting a second of four education-focused event in November. Stay tuned for more details and the topic to be discussed.