Miller Hull

2024 West Region Conference – Cultural Crossroads in Education: Ruth Baleiko

Date: 4-11-2024
Location: Honolulu, HI

3-26-2024 | Events

Partner Ruth Baleiko will be discussing,” Navigating School Design through the Context of History with Meaning and Purpose,” at the 2024 Associate for Learning Environments West Region Conference.

The Hawaiian islands were founded by seafaring Polynesians over 500 years ago arriving first at the ‘Ewa plane on the island of Oahu in the area of our school site. Stories tell of the first breadfruit tree planted in ‘Ewa by Tahitian chief Kaha’i, symbolizing a “new beginning” and “rebirth” befitting of the changes still occurring here to this day. Hundreds of years later after western influence arrived, the area known as Honouliuli Ahupua’a became home to the bulk of Hawaii’s agriculture business built by voyaging missionaries & industrialists. Plantations of sugarcane, sisal and pineapple proliferated bringing immigrants to work the fields and creating much of the multi-cultural diversity Hawai’i has today. As agriculture profits diminished in the 1990s, a “Second City” was envisioned to replace plants with people and this diverse community of 90% Native Hawaiian and minority persons is now the fastest developing area in the state and finds itself in dire need of new schools to accommodate the growing population. Harkening the origin stories of this place, the theme of navigation was explored to form a campus which informs and enhances middle school children through their own processes of navigating life and learning. Building on the historical foundation of the Ahupua’a and its residents, local and mainland architects teamed with the Hawai’i State Dept. of Education to engage with students and stakeholders. A year-long charette process resulted in a campus design rooted in local culture, sustainability, and reflective of the unique experience of middle school-aged students in the 21st century.

Learning Objectives:

  • Examine the historical and current cultural impacts of place and people that provided context for a school that meets the needs of a diverse community now and into the future.
  • Understand how land and water use shaped native settlements and influenced the school campus-built environment as a habitat for native plants, water resources and student learning on display.
  • Learn how integrating engaged feedback from students and stakeholders can positively affect future student outcomes.
  • Identify methods of gently moving large organizations toward new approaches to old problems.

Ruth will be speaking with Mark Ayers, AIA, Director of Educational Design with Ferraro Choi and Associates and Joel Kurokawa, PLA, ASLA, Principal with Ki Concepts.

More Info

Ruth Baleiko

FAIA, Partner

Architecture, as a profession, is often perceived as an intellectual and academic discipline, and therefore, an exclusive one. This notion is one that Ruth is eager to disprove. “I think the practice could do more to demonstrate the approachability in what we do.” Determined to demystify the impact architects bring to spaces, Ruth believes that accessibility…

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