2016 Speakers

Afternoon Keynote 

Dr. John J. Medina 

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Dr. John J. Medina is a developmental molecular biologist focused on the genetics of human brain development and psychiatric disorders. He holds an affiliate faculty appointment at the University of Washington School of Medicine, in its Department of Bioengineering. He was also the founding director of the Talaris Research Institute, a Seattle-based research center originally focused on how infants encode and process information at the cognitive, cellular and molecular levels. Medina’s celebrated book, Brain Rules was not only a New York Times bestseller, it has also become the standard handbook of understanding and improving the brain, which in turn, improves our lives. It has been translated into over 20 languages and is used as a textbook at more than 15 universities across the country, and a recently revised edition was released in 2014, along with Brain Rules for Baby. He’s been named Outstanding Faculty of the Year at the University of Washington’s College of Engineering; the Merrill Dow/Continuing Medical Education National Teacher of the Year; and, twice, the Bioengineering Student Association Teacher of the Year. As the father of two boys, he has an interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children. In addition to his research, consulting, and teaching, Medina speaks often to public officials, school boards, and nonprofit leaders – helping them answer some of the most complicated questions of the human mind, and insight into improving our productivity, and personal health.

Discussion Topics: The Learning Brain –

The Classroom Brain, The Exercising Brain


Morning Keynote

Peter Lippman 

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For the last 25 years, Peter C. Lippman, Assoc. AIA, REFP has been researching, writing about, designing and creating activity-based learning environments for the future.  His work is fueled by a desire to create places that are responsive to the needs of its users and encourage knowledge acquisition and life-long learning. Grounded in the research, Peter applies social science research methodologies to the programming, planning, and design of learning environments.  His research has focused on how the physical environment can influence and shape pedagogy. This approach provides a foundation for planning and design recommendations that are responsive and appropriate for each project. Peter’s contributions to the practice of architectural / environmental psychology lead the way for a theoretical approach for advancing and transforming the design industry and ultimately how design professionals program, plan, and design spaces for education. A prolific researcher and writer, Peter authored Evidence Based Design for Elementary & Secondary Schools: A Responsive Approach to Creating Learning Environments, for John Wiley & Sons, published in September 2010. This often sited design manifesto provides a theoretical and practical framework for collaboration between educators and design professionals as they endeavor to co-create educational environments.

Crafting High Quality Early Childhood Learning Centers

  • Why create high quality early childhood learning environments?
  • What are the features of a high quality early childhood learning environment?
  • How are these features integrated within a high quality early childhood learning environment?

Early childhood education is at the forefront of national agendas worldwide. The reason for this is that there is considerable and rarely disputed body of evidence that consistently demonstrates that children who attend high quality early childhood learning environments benefit academically. Extending the concepts proposed by Brizzard (2016), a high quality early learning environment is founded on the Building Blocks for Learning. These building blocks are the rubric for encouraging the development of the whole child.  Since the goal of these settings are to provide opportunities for the development of the whole child, the concept of the environment must extend beyond the social and curricular aspects of early education. For this reason, the physical environment must be investigated (Mathews & Lippman, 2015) and become an additional rubric in the building blocks for learning.

The goal of this presentation is to examine how this perspective has been incorporated in creating 21st Century Early Learning Centers around the world.

ECE Design Partners would like to thank Peter Lippman, our morning keynote, for authoring an exclusive white paper for the 2016 conference. Drawing on Peter’s extensive international experience in evidence based design for learning environments, he has offered this insightful primer to his presentation.


Jonathan Goldstein, Senior Director of Exhibits, Children’s Museum of Denver

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Since 2006, Mr. Goldstein has served as a senior exhibit designer and team leader for many extensive museum projects, including the Great Lakes Future exhibit at Discovery World in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, winner of the American Institute of Architects Merit Award (2008). His specific skills and experience include comprehensive digital design capabilities balanced with a passion for hands-on, physical fabrication. Most recently, Jonathan successfully led all design and fabrication efforts to expand the Children’s Museum of Denver, including a massive reimagining of the campus, building, and exhibit offerings. As a former public school teacher and father to two extremely inquisitive children, Jonathan has practiced the enthusiastic patience necessary to help curious minds meaningfully engage our wondrously beautiful world. Jonathan has a degree in history from Cornell University and a master’s in architecture from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Informal Learning Environments: Designing for Adventure

Designing interactive museum exhibits and experiences for young children and families involves three big questions designers should face: First; what are the desired opportunities for action an exhibit space should possess? Second; how can the articulation and description of these actions qualitatively impact and inform all aspects of design decision-making? And third; how does a designer collaborate with other people to make all of these integrated decisions? Through examining the recent design process and outcomes at a children’s museum, we see opportunities for action as particularly non-linear and divorced from the controlling bond between action and space. This insight optimistically posits a design alternative to both the scientific management of an occupant’s actions and, conversely, the blasé attitude that spatial design has no effect on people’s lives. The ultimate hope is that through the contrivance of the museum experience, a new empathetic design methodology emerges that resists the limits of functional determinism and instead embraces the diversity, possibility, and adventure of human occupation.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Survey the informal learning environment typology, through the lens of designing a new museum for young children and families.
  2. Explore an alternate design process to program-driven or quantitative programming design.
  3. Identify a potential design shift from seeing architecture as facilitator of efficiencies to a bridging link between action opportunities and the wider human values they express.
  4. Ponder and question the implications that a qualitative-action opportunity design approach may have on current post-occupancy evaluation methods and reporting.

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Tomas Jimenez-Eliasson & Carol Rickard-Brideau of Little Diversified Architectural Consulting

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Tomas Jimenez-Eliaeson, AIA, LEED, ALE, is a partner and director of design for the Community Practice Area at Little. Tomas is focused on projects that fuse typological redefinitions and environmentally conscious design with leading-edge technology and innovation. He is highly passionate about the future of education and has written about the Immersive Learningscape, an approach to the design of educational facilities that responds to 21st century skills, innovation and trans-disciplinary collaboration.

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With 33 years of practice, Carol Rickard-Brideau, AIA, LEED BD+C, WELL AP* is a partner and office president for the Washington, D.C. Office of Little, an expanded services architecture and design firm. For the past eight years she has focused on the intersection between architecture and neuroscience. She is a passionate advocate for how salutogenic design can lead to better human performance, health and happiness. She was a member of the inaugural WELL AP cohort, trained at the Cleveland Clinic.

Little Diversified Architectural Consulting is an industry leading architecture and design firm with more than 325 professionals in seven locations across the country.

Drawing from their extensive research, attendees will learn about Little’s Immersive Learningscape Theory and the important connection of brain science, learning and space.

BRAIN + SPACE + LEARNING : A Pattern Language for Designing Environments that empower learning for the Innovation Economy

This presentation will explore how Wellness, Neuroscience, Creativity and Culture-Making interact as innovative measures within an early childhood educational environment. The award-winning school, Invest Collegiate Charter School in Charlotte, NC, will be introduced as an example of how to design an exciting learning environment that integrates curriculum with brain and body.  You will learn how Invest Collegiate takes challenges and trends in modern education and addresses them through multiple design patterns to create a single, cohesive learning experience. We’ll share how the school was literally shaped through diagrams, video, photography and analysis, and showcase how this school puts Little’s Immersive Learningscape theory into practice, comprehensively blending the brain, learning, and space to offer targeted teaching for all.


Ed Buglewicz, AIA, RDG Planning & Design

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RDG Planning & Design is an interdisciplinary design firm that delivers meaningful projects by understanding clients and applying evidence. For 20 years the firm has designed early learning centers for corporations, non-profits, school districts, and tribal governments. Ed is exclusively dedicated to the design and implementation of early childhood education facilities. He has provided essential contributions to the Educare Learning Network from the inception of the program.

Stuart Shell, AIA, LEED BD+C, Forte Building Science, a division of M.E. GROUP

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Forte Building Science, a division of M.E. GROUP, has expertise in engineering, architecture, behavioral science, and analytics. Their work helps clients predict building performance, prevent building failures, and promote occupant well-being. Stuart researches how the built environment affects behavior. As a designer, he brings emphasis to the integrated experiences of teachers, students and parents.

Early Learning Schools: Building from Research

With over a century of applied science history, there is considerable knowledge of both child development and building science. However, relatively little evidence exists regarding the relationship between indoor learning environments and student outcomes. This presentation will summarize the links between behavior and environment, and present a teacher-centered approach to classroom design. Research from two early learning schools will demonstrate how indoor environmental quality affects teacher satisfaction.


Robin Randall, Vice President & Director of K-12 Education, Legat Architects
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Architect, educator, and environmentalist Robin Randall, AIA, LEED AP BD+C leads Legat Architects’ K-12 Education practice. She has led over 100 K-12 and higher education projects during her 30 years in the industry. Randall founded EDlab, a research engine aimed at achieving better learning environments and understanding how sustainability impacts communities. She also teaches at Judson University and has spoken and written for national conferences and publications about topics such as regenerative design, living laboratories, and curriculum-responsive environments.

Andy Howard, Hitchcock Design Group

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Throughout his career with Hitchcock Design Group, Andy’s creative vision and construction knowledge have played an instrumental role in a variety of projects ranging from early education outdoor classrooms, community parks and large-scale master plans. As Co-Chair of the Chicago Wilderness Leave No Child Inside planning committee, he led the logo design team for the Leave No Child Inside initiative. A licensed landscape architect and graduate of Purdue University, Andy’s passion for connecting children with the natural environment has resulted in some of the Midwest’s most innovative, nature-based play environments. His work on outdoor learning environments such as The Morton Arboretum Children’s Garden and Hawks Hollow Nature Playground has been recognized by numerous professional organizations and he has presented sessions at regional as well as national conferences on the importance of educating children about nature.

Adventures in Curiosity: Early Childhood Facility Design

This session will reveal strategies for creating environments tailored to the youngest learners. Attendees will learn tips for developing early learning centers that respond to students’ curiosity, inspire educators, and reach out to the community. Presenters will focus on concepts such as adaptability, interaction, and immersion to optimize early learning environments.