The Day That Everything Changed

November 14th, 2014 changed my perspective on my job forever. On that day, my wife and I welcomed our first child into this world. McKenzie Elizabeth was born healthy and with a full head of hair. The only difference on this day was that we were adopting McKenzie. Instantly, my perspective changed. For over 8 years, I have been designing schools. With VLK Architects, I loved every bit of my job and the joy and happiness teachers and students had when they use their new facility. I always gave all that I had to make sure the building and the spaces that we were designing would make that same feeling appear every time. But now, things have changed in a personal way.

rsz_days_after_being_born.jpgThere are many things that I see differently now. The furnishings that the students use need to be age-appropriate. That desk in the classroom needs to make the classroom environment comfortable and inviting for the students to learn. Any building may seem large to someone at some point. The simple use of graphics in different colors could help the elementary student know where their classroom is. Wayfinding devices throughout a high school will help the incoming freshman navigate their way during this big jump in their school career. Small learning communities can make the largeness of the school shrink to a smaller, more comfortable scale. A connection to the outdoors can help the students learn how to merge classroom learning with nature around them. Above all, the building needs to be inviting and safe while enhancing the learning experience.

Now when I walk into a building, I always look to see if it will fit the needs of my daughter as she grows up. I now have an extra level of pressure, good pressure, to make sure that what I design and create will be a great space for her. You never know when theday will come that something you make, design, or create is used by your own children. This new pressure is not only focused on my daughter, but all of the students. When I am making the best for her, I am making the best for the student to her left, to her right, in the next classroom and next building.

So now little McKenzie Elizabeth is 6 months old and growing like the weeds in our backyard. Many of the projects here at VLK are doing the same as they grow from the ground up and near completion. The adoption of my daughter has opened up a new view in my life here at VLK to fully adopt the hopes, wishes, and ideas of our clients, especially the teachers and students, on each project.

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