Architecture Program


First Advisor

Lindsey Bahe

Date of this Version



Perez, Bryan H. Shifting School Design to the 21st Century: Challenges with Alternative Learning Environments. Master of Science in Architecture Thesis, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2017.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of the Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Architecture, Under the Supervision of Professor Lindsey Bahe. Lincoln, Nebraska: August, 2017.

Copyright (c) 2017 Bryan H. Perez


There is a need for major change in our educational system and in particular the design of schools. Our existing school model was defined in the mid- to late-1800s, as a response to the Industrial Revolution, and does not reflect the needs of the next generation of 21st century students. One of the key elements of change in schools is the shift from confined classrooms towards alternative learning environments – spaces that are designed for a specific learning type or activity.

This thesis focuses on secondary education and examines three schools identified as having innovative school designs. While all three schools are professionally recognized as innovative institutes by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Architectural Education (CAE), their local AIA chapter, and/or by the Association for Learning Environments’ James D. MacConnell Award, they vary in curriculum, program requirements, size, and site context.

The research of these schools uses a qualitative mixed method approach to measure the effectiveness of alternative learning environments in secondary schools. It is conducted through a combination of an inventory and analysis of each school’s program and spaces as well as through a questionnaire sent to the faculty, staff, and administration of each school to assess the use and qualities of the alternative learning environments in their schools. The objective of this research is to identify the positive and negative impacts of the alternative learning environments on the school’s organization, curriculum, educators, and students.

Advisor: Lindsey Bahe