School buildings and their learning environments have remained relatively static over time. Many of the classrooms still in use today were built for traditional, “chalk-n-talk” pedagogies and passive learning; they are not prepared for today’s more active learning approaches.1 Innovative schools are beginning to adopt new curricula and pedagogical strategies that align with research being done on student learning outcomes. In Rochester, New York, an initiative called the Rochester Schools Modernization Program (RSMP) has secured $325 million from New York State for Phase I of an effort to redesign, renovate and update 12 existing schools. Later phases will address the remaining schools in Rochester, NY. How can physical environments accommodate these new learning models, and continue to inspire students? School developers and designers are rethinking all physical resources to create “breakthrough environments”: ones where their new school models can thrive and where students can be fully engaged in their learning.2 Because students will continue to spend less seat time in traditional classrooms, new school designs are built to foster learning anytime and everywhere, through both purposeful and unscheduled social interaction.3 This thesis will combine research of how students learn, environmental factors of learning, and the benefits of sustainable schools into a schematic redesign of Nathaniel Hawthorne School #25, a struggling elementary school in Rochester, New York. This school building redesign will then serve as a model for the Rochester School Modernization Project (RSMP), offering insights and researched ideas that will support the project as a whole.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

School buildings--Design and construction; Architecture--Psychological aspects

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Architecture (M.Arch.)

Department, Program, or Center

Architecture (GIS)


Jules Chiavaroli

Advisor/Committee Member

Callie Babbitt

Advisor/Committee Member

Trevor Harrison


Physical copy available from RIT's Wallace Library at LB3218.N7 L36 2015


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes