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To improve open-plan offices, look at the evolution of elementary school classrooms

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Architects of corporate offices and school classrooms have a shared dilemma: How to design a space that allows for focused work and group activity. In the search for answers to fix the tyranny of open-plan offices, researching the history of elementary classrooms yields a surprising catalog of ideas.

In the new book “The Design of Childhood, architecture critic Alexandra Lange presents a fascinating survey of classroom design. From 19th c. one-room schoolhouses; the L-shaped layout in the progressive Crow Island School in Illinois; no-grid desk arrangements at the experimental Lincoln School at Columbia University Teachers College or the movable partitions and “breeze windows” of the innovative Rosenwald schools for African American children, Lange outlines how classrooms has evolved in response to changing politics, pedagogy and technology of the day.

Working closely with educators, school architects have obsessed for........

© Quartz