Is There a Limit to the Size of a Good Classroom?

by Becca Cavell

Changes in funding for higher education have left many institutions scrambling to find more cost effective ways to graduate increasing numbers of enrolled students. Many innovative concepts are at play, ranging from reducing the “average” student tenure from four to three years to providing more class materials on line and thus reducing contact hours of teaching. One of the most controversial trends is the rising interest in “mega classrooms” – auditoriums that hold sometimes more than 1,000 students.

Can such huge classrooms succeed?

Read more


Feel Better, Work Smarter

by Brienne Wasmer

I recently heard an architect speak of design work as “a labor of love” which got me wondering if that wasn’t just a nice way to label “work-aholism.” It is no secret that the profession puts in long hours and cares deeply about the quality of work, which can be, at times, at the expense of our own well-being. Over the past few decades, research has piled up supporting the importance of ergonomics in the workplace.

Read more


A Tale of Two Classrooms

by Becca Cavell

I recently taught a seminar on Learning Spaces at the University of Oregon’s Portland Program. One of the student assignments required teams to visit local colleges and universities to observe classrooms “in action,” in terms of both functional performance and teaching approach. A great stroke of luck led two teams of students to observe the same class delivered in two very different environments.

Read more


Walking the Talk

by Annie Mahoney

In design, THA believes that architecture is best when it is an honest expression of the people and institutions it serves.

In the same way, THA supports a sustainable approach with its building projects and believes that the firm itself must also demonstrate these beliefs in daily office life and practices. This is not always easy.

Read more


Mobile Learning Units

by Becca Cavell

Remember tablet arm chairs? The old stalwarts of “pack ‘em in” classroom design? The chairs have been unpopular with designers for years for a variety of reasons. They don’t stack, are hard to move around, and the tablets themselves are often too small for the needs of today’s students.  But perhaps the most insidious problem with the chairs is a fundamental challenge to any classroom design: the backpack issue. Bags usually end up either on the floor or hanging on the back of the chairs, often rendering them unstable.

Read more