Ed Specs Can Elevate Teaching and Learning
An education specification (ed spec) is a valuable written communication tool for everyone involved in the planning and programming of a new school or major addition to an educational facility. The process of developing an ed spec involves the collection of important information that will impact the lives of students, educators and maintenance staff for the next 50 years. As an architect, I use this valuable data base to create the optimal design solution for my clients’ needs.
While the primary purpose of an ed spec is to serve as an effective means of communication between educators and design professionals, developing an ed spec has far-reaching benefits. With this process, educators have the opportunity to carefully evaluate and analyze the services to students and community, the philosophy and objectives of the school, school organization, methods of instruction and their impact on space, furniture and equipment, environmental atmosphere and space utilization to identify factors which impact teaching and learning in their school.
The ed spec process also builds consensus among educators and solicits the active involvement of the community. The document serves as a tangible guide for evaluation throughout the design and construction phases for the team to evaluate the compatibility of the educational program and the facility. The ed spec process ultimately produces effective communication that results in a facility that does what the educators said they wanted it to do.
Currently, I am working on an ed spec for a district that plans to replace five of its elementary schools and completely renovate another five facilities. The ed spec process maintains equity and consistency among the 10 school design solutions, while embracing the unique nature of each neighborhood school. The true beauty of the ed spec is that it allows each school in the district to portray its unique identity in the design solution.