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  /  Architecture   /  Lessons From the Past: Historical Building Design and Its Impact on Modern Educational Spaces
Historical education building's walkway

Lessons From the Past: Historical Building Design and Its Impact on Modern Educational Spaces

Historical building design has taught us many valuable lessons in the field of modern educational building design. The way that earlier generations approached building design for educational purposes still reverberates and inspires modern architects planning educational structures today.

Neenan Archistruction® is an educational building contractor based in Fort Collins and serving nationwide. We offer the best in educational building design for schools and universities in the modern age. Here are some important lessons we can learn from historical buildings and how we can incorporate them into the current educational space and design trends. Contact us today!


Historical Building Design and Its Impact on Modern Educational Spaces


University library interior

Developing a Sense of Place

Many historical educational buildings have a strong sense of identity and purpose. They represent the values of education to a school community and offer students an emotional connection towards the institutions. By building a sense of place, schools can create a collective and shared experience that reflects the identity of both the institution and its students.


A historical education building's interior

Human-Centered Design

Historical educational buildings are marked for their human-centric design. Older buildings were often constructed with human interaction in mind, meaning architects carefully considered how people interacted with spaces. The relationship between people, spaces, and nature or light is often amplified in older schools and university buildings. In modern educational building design, architects can learn and incorporate some of these techniques to create a more welcoming and accessible environment for students.


Cobblestone path at a historical university


Many historical educational buildings teach us important lessons in sustainability. Despite the constraints in building technology, a handful of historical buildings were designed for their longevity and sustainability. From natural ventilation systems to water harvesting systems to the design of spaces, architects can learn and incorporate these ideas into modern educational building design concepts.


A university interior in Europe

Purpose of Space

Spaces in historical educational buildings had a specific purpose, which was built into the design process. Buildings such as elementary schools and middle schools had a natural flow and story-telling quality that helped to reinforce the educational building’s purpose. By considering the use of a space and incorporating purpose and design, architects can create educational buildings that reflect the specific and varying needs of different spaces within the structure.


University buildings in Oregon

Embracing Existing Qualities

Historical educational buildings were often constructed at a time when building codes were a lot simpler. While it may seem restrictive, this simplicity often allowed for more organic and personal designs that reflect a specific neighborhood or region’s style. Modern educational architects should consider the historical context of the neighborhood and surrounding area when designing sustainable buildings. Preserving the history and authenticity of a community can add character to a new educational building while reminding people that the area has a long and rich history.


Historical educational buildings, such as schools and universities, can teach us many important lessons in modern educational building design. From the carefully thought-out human-centric design to the intentional development of a sense of place, there are many lessons that can be learned from the heritage buildings. By integrating some of these elements into modern educational building construction, architects can create educational buildings that are functional, sustainable, and personalized. The future of educational space is one that has learned from the past and embraces new lessons in a changing world.
Here at Neenan Archistruction®, we take a personalized approach to our educational facility designs. We work closely with our customers in order to ensure your needs are met and incorporated into the design. We take this collaborative approach throughout the construction phase, too, so you can ensure your building is 100% the way you envisioned it. To get started, reach out to start a conversation today!

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