#BigClassBestTen: Writers' Room Redesign

The Small Center for Collaborative Design partnered with Big Class to renovate the Writers' Room in students' own vision. 

The Writers’ Room at Sylvanie Williams College Prep is a dedicated space for pre-K through 8th grade students to attend writing clubs, get feedback on their work, and collaborate with volunteers and other students. In 2017, students from the Tulane School of Architecture's Small Center and Sylvanie students worked together to reimagine the Writers' Room into a space that is inviting, dynamic, and encourages writing.

On May 11th, we held a celebration in the redesigned Writers' Room with Sylvanie students, our Small Center collaborators, educators, and community members. The beautiful room reflects Sylvanie students' own visions for the space while supporting our programmatic needs and fosters a creative, literary spirit. 

Revisit our Q&A with Professor Emilie Taylor and a few students from the Design Build class:

In what ways do you think this project affected students to be better architects and members of the design community?

ET: For many of our students this is the first time they are working with a client, which is a big moment for them - it's also the first time they have a budget, first time making something with tools, and often the first time their design ideas are being built and having real-world consequences. So there's a lot to learn and a lot of pushing against comfort zones in that bundle. The students have to learn quickly how to communicate, collaborate, and be creative problem solvers. My hope is that the engagement with Big Class staff and their students as well as discussions about design process and access to design that are happening throughout the semester make the students think more critically about what they do, who they do it for, and how they each can be a force for good and design equity in their corner of the world.

Tell us a little bit about the creative process for this project. What did you learn by visiting the Writers' Room, and how did you determine the final design?

Camille: In visiting the Writer’s Room, I learned a lot about the general mood of the class, like what the kids are interested in, what sort of things they would like to see in a space and what sort of things they wouldn’t enjoy. The Big Class kids that we interacted with were a funny, creative, and sometimes crazy bunch, and talking with them made me think they would enjoy a playful, vibrant space. 

Paula: Visiting the school gave us the chance to talk to the teachers and the students about what they would like to see in the space and get some one to one feedback. This preliminary studies helped us narrow down to a few key needs and wants for the space which we carried through to the final product. 

What were your favorite parts of working on this project?

Camille: I had a lot of favorite parts of this project. One thing that was great was working with an actual client, and having my first experience with a client be such an easy, collaborative one. Big Class was awesome, they were communicative and excited and I think that having this being my first interaction with a real client was a really positive experience. Building off of that, not only was it awesome to have that interaction, it was also awesome to be able to make something for someone and watch them see a little dream realized. Seeing the reaction of our final design felt really, really good, it felt like we had done our job and served Big Class well, and I can’t wait to see what the kids think. 

Our biggest thanks to the Small Center for all their hard work and our beautiful finished Writers' Room!