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Jan 10, 2018
Dexter Patio - California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, USA

Educational design is evolving and a trend to more flexible learning spaces is evident. The learning environment is moving beyond the classroom walls and emphasis has been put on the quality of and access to outdoor spaces, to create balance between the indoors and out. “Studies show that classrooms with views to natural elements such as trees and shrubs greatly increase the occupants’ cognitive ability. One study measured that a person who spends 15 minutes walking through a park-like setting increased memory and attention performance by 20 percent. In addition, access to nature can lower stress levels, improve a student’s ability to focus and improve mood”.1

Maglin Site Furniture has worked with many post-secondary institutions to develop indoor and outdoor spaces. Jill Roberts, Maglin’s Sales Manager states “Students are our future customers. It’s always exciting to see how campuses are evolving over time and Maglin’s goal is to evolve our products to fit these sites. We want to provide amenities that make campuses inviting and encourage students to enjoy campus life…outside!” In addition, Maglin also sees value in building relationships outside of this realm.

In 2015, while visiting Chicago for the annual American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) trade show, Ian McAskile (President and CEO of Maglin Site Furniture) met Omar Faruque, the Chair of California Polytechnic State University’s (Cal Poly) Landscape Architecture Department. With a common interest in the natural and built environments, the two saw opportunity for Maglin and Cal Poly to collaborate in a way that would benefit the school and the learning experience – a design contest challenge.  McAskile says, “Maglin is always looking for unique opportunities.”

Cal Poly’s Dexter Patio sits between the Walter F. Dexter Building and the Dexter Lawn, a major student hub on campus. In need of an update, McAskile and Faruque saw the patio as an opportunity to create a hands-on project for students. By providing project specs and design constraints, Maglin Site Furniture would challenge Cal Poly students to design a new exterior floorplan for the Dexter Patio. McAskile described the contest as “An opportunity to give students entering the landscape architecture profession a different slant on projects by working with specific requirements as they would in the industry.”

The challenge was accepted! Maglin Site Furniture would donate $25,000 in product to a redesigned Dexter Patio, using Maglin’s flexible Lexicon series. Cash prizes would be awarded for the top three submissions and the floorplan designs would be displayed in Maglin’s tradeshow booth at ASLA 2017, in Los Angeles.

By utilizing Maglin’s online product resources, and reaching out to Maglin Sales and Design representatives, students created floorplans that reflected budget constraints and use of multiple Lexicon components, as well as recognition of pre-existing patio features. After careful consideration, the judging committee selected the top 3 winners: third place, Sofie Assi and Christina Du Mont; second place, Isaiah Rapko; and first place, Piper Tulley.

Tulley’s design was selected for its “careful consideration of pedestrian traffic, successful intermingling of new furniture with existing pieces and the use of rectangular and circular forms.” As a second year Landscape Architecture student, Piper Tulley is excited about her work right now. After seeing the final installation of the Lexicon components in the Dexter Patio, Tulley said, “Today I got to see my design, actually installed! It was so absolutely incredible, I can’t put it to words!” Maglin Site Furniture is always looking for new and unique opportunities to enrich educational experiences. Create a collaborative approach to active learning by transforming your exterior campus with Maglin’s Standard product offerings, or create a design distinctive to your site.

[1] Educational design taking lessons from tech firms