Redesigning the entry-space of their building to create a better experience for students arriving for class, and make better use of the space.
To discover how students and other visitors feel about the space, improve upon it so that it is both useful and appealing, support students in their arrival process, and reduce confusion and ineffective communication.
Alissa Rubin, Ricky Chung,
Jamie Liu, Ning Han
The Crucible, Oakland’s renowned industrial art school, is an exciting and formidable space that works to provide an incredible range of programs and opportunities for their students.
The Crucible is building a better tomorrow by fostering a positive and open attitude toward learning and creative expression in today’s artists, who will become tomorrow’s teachers and leaders.
The Crucible came to us for help improving student wayfinding. Their desired focus was on redesigning the entry-space of their building to create a better experience for students arriving for class and make better use of the space.
OUR DESIGN FOCUS
The opportunity we focused on for The Crucible was creating a clear and consistent visual language throughout the space to promote an exciting, cohesive, and guided experience when arriving at The Crucible, through design solutions they could implement themselves and shape to fit individual contributors’ personal styles and abilities.
We decided to tackle this question by experiencing the space for ourselves, observation of others in the space, reviewing secondary research (mixed quantitative and anecdotal) conducted previously by another firm, and interviews with students, staff, and teachers.
We started our journey by looking at the space and analyzed it from the perspective of a new student arriving for class, or a curious visitor looking around. We each experienced uncertainty about where to park and which door we should use to enter, and spent some time looking around for a clear indication.
Through this practice, we understood that there are not a lot of clues, from the exterior, about what their building is and what they do inside.
We observed a number of unique challenges in interacting with the space, including for students with bikes, people arriving when there was a bottleneck at the sign-in versus an empty space, groups of friends arriving together, children navigating the space, and visitors picking up students.
During our research observations, we noted body language, facial expressions, interactions, and questions about the space.
We conducted twenty interviews, with adult students, children, their parents, staff, and instructors to learn about the successes and problems they encountered in the process.
We attended The Crucible’s yearly field trip event for school groups to come to watch demonstrations and spoke with school-aged students to learn about their perspectives and impressions of the space.
From interviews, we gathered additional insights into various obstacles encountered, expectations, and ideas for changes.
“I didn’t know if I was in the right place!”
“Do I need to sign in?”
“I started to wait in line because I saw a line.”
“I didn’t see the map. I just passed right by it.”
People are uncertain about what The Crucible does inside.
Wayfinding is really hard both outside and inside.
posted Information around the place are not clear.
We asked members of The Crucible staff and faculty to join us for a co-creation session. We engaged the staff with three different activities that solicited their hopes for how the building could look, and clarified the information that needed to be present and prioritized within the space.
This session provided context and history for past design choices, as well as practical considerations for new changes, such as security needs.
After finding the opportunities we sat together and started thinking and sketching ideas that could help us solve the problems that we found earlier.
How might we better guide students and visitors toward their primary goal?
How might we better convey the activities and spirit of The Crucible to visitors?
How might we encourage interaction and conversation in the space?