Woodbury Agency for Civic Engagement Project is a Finalist in SXSW EDU Competition

The Outdoor Classroom for John Muir Middle School is depicted in the documentary We Can Build on This
The Outdoor Classroom for John Muir Middle School is depicted in the documentary “We Can Build on This”

An outdoor classroom for a Burbank middle school, designed by Woodbury architecture students as a way to promote a unique connection to the natural environment, is a finalist in the SXSW EDU conference’s “Learn by Design” competition in Austin, TX this March. SXSW EDU is designed to foster innovation in education. The “Learn by Design” competition celebrates the collaboration of designers and educators in the pursuit of design-based solutions to challenges within education.

The Outdoor Classroom for John Muir Middle School is depicted in the documentary “We Can Build on This,” which was produced by professor Jeanine Centuori, from the School of Architecture, and associate professor Nicole Keating, from the School of Media, Culture, and Design. It was directed by Woodbury alumnus, Justin Mickens. The documentary, funded by a faculty development grant, was used to enter the competition. It is one of ten finalists and Keating will present at SXSW EDU on March 6 along with Greg Miller, the principal of John Muir Middle School.

“I’m excited to present this project, which is a wonderful example of interdisciplinary work and civic engagement,” Keating said. “Woodbury has extraordinary potential in this regard since we have such expertise and creativity in our small but dynamic learning community.”

Media and architecture students collaborated on physical constructions and media productions for environmental and social justice community projects located at two LA sites: The John Muir Middle School, which needed a specific structure for a multi-use outdoor classroom, and the CA State Parks Bowtie Parcel, which required a structure for use by the public. These two contrasting sites provided a springboard for conceptual, material, programmatic, and tangible explorations. The documentary “We Can Build on This” follows students in the fast-paced studio course researching, designing and constructing the projects. The course, entitled “Tactical Place-Making and Urban Engagement” was co-taught by Jeanine Centuori and Oscar Corletto in the spring of 2016.

The project was developed through Woodbury’s Agency for Civic Engagement (ACE) which is directed by Centuori. ACE helps Woodbury students and faculty engage in activities designed to benefit underserved communities.

The “Learn by Design” competition features projects and design solutions that enhance physical learning environments for students at every age. The ten finalists are organized into four categories: higher education, Pre-K-12, informal learning, and conceptual. The projects are evaluated by a panel of judges comprised of educators, designers, architects, administrators, and education practitioners who will evaluate each project based on their innovation and effectiveness.

The Outdoor Classroom was made possible through a donation by NBBJ Architects.


We Can Build On This will also be screened at the following conferences:

Architecture_Media_Politics_Society (AMPS) at the University of Arizona — Tucson, February 22-23, 2018
​Summit on Women, Gender and Wellbeing at the University of Wisconsin — Madison, April 12-14, 2018

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