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Drexel and Perkins Eastman Partner in Consortium for Design and Education Outcomes


May 15, 2019

Global architecture and design firm Perkins Eastman and Drexel University, a Tier 1 Research university in Philadelphia, PA, are pleased to announce the Consortium for Design and Education Outcomes (CDEO), a joint research collaboration that will study the impact of environmental design on educational outcomes.

With millions of students attending school every day in obsolete, and often unhealthy facilities, the research of the Consortium is needed to provide informed guidance to schools and school districts planning improvements to health, safety, security and performance of their learning environments. CDEO will focus its initial research efforts to address three core questions:

  1. How can learning environments be optimized to address the pedagogical, social/emotional and environmental needs of teachers, administrators, and students?
  2. How can school buildings enhance the communities in which they are located beyond what happens in the classroom?
  3. How can the process by which communities decide whether and how to approach school design and construction be improved?

Co-leading CDEO are Perkins Eastman’s K-12 practice leader, Sean O’Donnell, FAIA, LEED-AP, and Drexel University’s School of Education associate clinical professor, Bruce A. Levine, JD.

“School districts across the country live with a capital construction funding shortfall of over $38 million annually,” says Sean. “Our research is targeted at helping these districts advocate for greater funding, while also enabling them to spend the limited funds they have more effectively, to create facilities that better enhance education.” With 23 years of experience designing award-winning learning environments around the world, Sean has worked to ensure that the learning environment is fully supportive of all of the users’ physical, intellectual, social/emotional, organizational and technological needs. He is the founding chair of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Washington, DC, Chapter Committee on Architecture for Education, serves on the Executive Committee, Board of Directors and as co-chair of the National Technical Advisory for the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, and is an active member of the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE).

Bruce serves as the director of the School of Education’s Educational Policy and Global and International Education program, the M.S. degree in Education Improvement and Transformation, and of the University’s Washington, DC, Center. His current research interests include exploration of community school models in US education, with a particular focus on how such models can impact a variety of stakeholders; civic and media literacy; legal implications of educational technology; and the relationship between the educational enterprise and workforce development.

“This collaboration is intended to create, strengthen, consolidate, and disseminate research on the linkages between the design of the environment and attainment of the goals of our education system,” says Bruce. “We intend CDEO to become a resource for communities, school leaders and school districts seeking to make evidence-based decisions about the future of their facilities.”

Interim Dean Penny Hammrich of the Drexel School of Education remarked, “Being involved with Perkins Eastman in CDEO is consistent with our School’s vision of being an intellectual center in educational innovation and transformation of how we approach the continuous improvement of our schools and communities.”

CDEO has formed an Advisory Board made up of passionate leaders from academia, design, advocacy groups, government, and industry who will serve as a sounding board for initiatives and projects being considered, a source of ideas and knowledge sharing, and a means of promoting the existence and mission of CDEO. Advisors include, among others, representatives of the District of Columbia Public Schools, the Alexandria City Public Schools, the Montgomery County Public Schools, The American Federation of Teachers, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the USGBC’s Center for Green Schools, and the 21st Century School Fund.

About Drexel University

Founded in 1891 in Philadelphia, Drexel University is a nationally-ranked, comprehensive research university recognized for its focus on experiential learning through cooperative education, its commitment to cutting-edge academic technology, and its growing enterprise of use-inspired research. With more than 24,000 students, Drexel is one of the nation’s largest private universities. Drexel is committed to translational research and is poised to respond to novel opportunities for research, scholarship, and technological development. Drexel is one of Philadelphia’s top private employers, and a major engine for economic development in the region.

About Perkins Eastman

Perkins Eastman is a global design firm founded on the belief that design can have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives. The firm’s award-winning practice draws on its 1,000 professionals networked across 17 offices worldwide. By keeping the user’s needs foremost in the design process, the firm enhances the human experience across the spectrum of the built environment. For more information visit