“Jay’s evolution towards a project-based, collaborative educational model grew from his per­sonal interest in the education of hearing impaired children using an “inclusion” model.”

Jay J. Litman, AIA

Principal & Rhode Island Studio Director

Jay J. Litman, AIA has a deep understanding and appreciation of the educational challenges facing both children and adults within the teaching and learning environment. His 38-years of professional experience has focused primarily on the planning and design of PreK-12 educational facilities; campus planning and design; public and private libraries; and historic rehabilitation. His project background also extends to urban planning, housing and commercial.

He is deeply involved in the emerging theories of project-based, collaborative teaching and learning that is reshaping the language of modern school design. His evolution towards a project-based, collaborative educational model grew from his personal interest in the education of hearing impaired children using an “inclusion” model. The emerging theories of the time mandated fundamental changes in the design of the classroom environment such as; learning in smaller groups, working collaboratively on project based assignments, creating multiple modes of learning within one classroom as well as paying attention to acoustics and lighting. It became immediately apparent that the current 100-year old factory model for public education was highly resistant to change at the most fundamental levels.

As a FNI Partner and Head of the Rhode Island Studio, Jay advocates a workshop driven approach for the design of new schools and community campuses both in the United States and internationally. He has led FNI teams for new or revitalized schools and campuses in countries such as Switzerland, Russia, Japan, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia. The Sinarmas World Academy in Serpong, Indonesia was recognized by CEPFI (A4LE) with an International Award of Distinction.

Jay is presently heading our efforts to establish a new multiple international school campus in Kazan Russia; major modernization of all schools in the Chappaqua School District (NY), a major renovation to the Canadian Academy in Kobe, Japan; and a new Middle School for a private Catholic Academy in Tampa, Florida.

For the last few years he has been developing the idea of a new curriculum component centered on design and problem-solving. This has led to the development of the “STEAM Learning Center”. The STEAM Lab teaches student to envision, invent and build their ideas. This goes far beyond the limitations of a “Maker Space”. This vision has now resulted in the design and (in-progress) construction of several major STEAM projects both at International, Public and Private School Campuses.

Another Innovation developed in the Rhode Island studio is the Educational Innovation Lab. The “I-Lab” is and educational laboratory where teachers have the ability to incorporate teaching and learning methods into the curriculum units that could not be adequately delivered in a traditional classroom. This is the place where education practice and spatial design work in harmony. It demonstrates how new teaching and learning methods benefit from spaces specifically designed to fit a new model of education. The I-Lab enables self-directed, independent and group learning which, research indicates is a key form of knowledge acquisition; students who work together learn more. It provides the infrastructure where faculty can ignite discussion, coach, give feedback, demonstrate, supervise, observe and consult with student teams as they collaborate. There are now three built here in the US with several more in the works.

Contact Jay J. Litman at jay@fieldingnair.com.