After our panel discussion in Frome, we boarded the bus again and headed back toward London with a planned stop at Langley Academy.  Langley was designed by another famous English architect – Norman Foster.  Unfortunately, it was night by the time we arrived, but we did the tour nonetheless.  It’s difficult to gauge the effectiveness of learning environments without the daylight that makes them come to life, but we were able to analyze the plan layout and the interior volumes. 

Langley has two nearly identical classroom wings connected to a large central atrium.  The wings are three stories high, with connecting vertical space at the center of each.  The interior of the building had a very industrial quality with exposed structure, electrical, and HVAC systems.  Something that really surprised me was how much exposed conduit and electrical devices we saw on the walls of this new building, as well as at other schools we had toured.  When I asked one of our host architects about that issue, he replied “Well, we can’t really coordinate that, so we just expect it will all be exposed.”  Mind you, this is exposed conduit on brand new gypsum board walls – and it is everywhere.  English architects seem to be so marginalized by their delivery process that they have no ability to coordinate something as simple as getting conduit inside the walls of new construction.  Moreover, the builders see nothing amiss in their lack of attention to this simple detail.