Friday, August 28, 2009

A Tribute to Dr. Jeff Lackney

Thousands of people around the world have followed Jeff Lackney’s educational design research and practice since 1998 on DesignShare. Several of us at DesignShare and Fielding Nair International owe a deep debt of gratitude to Jeff for showing us so many tangible ways of changing the world, one school at a time. Beyond the dozens of original publications that he authored, Jeff has contributed a significant body of work to the global school design profession as a Senior Design Architect with Fielding Nair International.

This is a tribute to Jeff and a place to record his legacy. As many know, Jeff has been battling liver cancer and is seriously ill. However, since being diagnosed more than two years ago, Jeff has dealt with his grave illness with the courage and grace that has characterized his whole life, beating the odds time and again to the bafflement of his attending physicians. Where others might simply have given up, Jeff embraced life with even more vigor, devoting time to his family and also traveling to many exotic locations around the world to work on school projects. As a result, he has continued to produce outstanding and truly original designs that will benefit dozens of communities and thousands of children for many years to come.

We encourage you to use this blog to share your thanks and memorable stories about the impact Jeff has had on you.


  1. Jeff and I knew each other only professionally having worked together only once, but even in that short time Jeff had an impact on my life personally. For me he represents a tireless passion for education and the pursuit of research-based innovations that have made a real impact to students and teachers everywhere. From his insipration, I hope to continue that work in some small way in my own career. Thank you, Jeff.

    Jason Boone
    Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc
    141 Herrick Road
    Newton Centre, MA 02459-2218
    Phone: 617-964-1700

  2. Jeff,

    I was very saddened to hear of your illness and its seriousness. Please know that you have been most special to me in your writing and in the few times that we have met and talked. I have used your “Toffler Table” often and each time I say it was conceived by my friend, Jeff Lackney. Jeff, you have made a diffence - to me and to lots of others. Thanky you. You will be in my thoughts and your family too.

    Andrew Bunting
    Victoria Australia

  3. Jeff,
    On behalf of the members and friends of CEFPI in Australia, I express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to the contribution you have made to the evolving debate over our learning environments. You have been an inspiration to many architects and educators through your work, words and presentations down under and your legacy will continue to grow. Thank you. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
    Philip Idle
    CEFPI Australasia President
    Perth Australia

  4. Jeff - very, very few of us have an opportunity to leave a footprint as significant and clearly defined as your's mate. Somewhere in all this you seemed to have pushed a snowball off a cliff that has gathered into an avalanche that will touch quite literally millions of lives as around the planet we all now seek to move on from that old factory model of learning to the inspired, delightful, playful, effective, engaging world that great design now offers our learners today. You might feel pretty pleased about that. It's irreversible and it's started, and it was your shoulder on the snowball that got it moving.

    But rather more than that I happen to believe that we might mend some of the world's problems with Learning - people learning together seem less inclined to kill each other, learning innoculates against poverty. What you have done has set Learning on a path that might, just, be the saving of us all.

    Goodness knows what you might have done with another decade or two but be very clear that what you've done is enough.

    Stephen Heppell

  5. Jeff knows this story, I think. I don’t know any jokes and I cannot remember funny stories, but this is one of the few that sticks in my head, and it sums up exactly how I feel when working with Jeff, only because he is so smart. And on the things we collaborated on he had "been there/done that", all in a wonderful, modest way.

    It is from the Peanuts cartoon strip, many years ago. (I am Charlie Brown. Jeff is...)

    Charlie Brown and Linus (or was it Schroeder) are lying on the pitcher’s mound looking up at the sky.

    Charlie Brown says, “Linus, they say if you look up at the clouds, you can see things. What do you see?”

    Linus says, “Oh, what a wonderful idea. Over there, I think I can see George Washington crossing the Delaware, just like in that famous painting. And over there it looks like a giant map of the Indian sub-continent. And, oh yes, over there I can see what looks like a cross-sectional diagram of a sea conch. What do you see, Charlie Brown?”

    Charlie Brown pauses before responding, and finally says “I was going to say I saw a chickie and a duckie, but forget it.”

    Frank Locker
    27th August 2009

  6. This is from Andrew Bunting:
    Dear Jeff,

    I was very distressed to hear that you are seriously unwell. I didn't have a clue that you were in this condition. And so I want to tell you that you have made a significant contribution to my interest in school design. The two books (with white covers) that you wrote (one with Gary Moore) were the first I came across that talked about the impact of school design on students learning. Then the 'Toffler Table" you presented to CEFPI in 1998 is a classic and one I have used in many places. Jeff, as we get older and at the end of our lives it is nice to think that we have made a difference. You me and to lots of others - thank you. You are in my thoughts constantly and I wish I could get to see you but that seems remote.

    With my very best regards and affection.

    Andrew Bunting

  7. Today I have received the bad news that Jeff Lackney has passed away. That is sad for our "Book-writing-community" on "Schools for the Future. Design Proposals from Architectural Psychology." We will think of him fondly and are grateful that we could work togethter on a shared project. He has written wonderful sections for our book which greatly contributed to it it becoming a good work. Jeff was a very fine person and we send our sympathies to his family.
    Bless you,

    Guten Morgen,
    heute erreichte mich die Nachricht, dass Jeff Lackney gestern verstarb. Das ist traurig für unsere kleine "Buchgemeinschaft".
    Wir denken mit Respekt und Freude an ihn zurück und sind dankbar, dass er mit uns gemeinsam an einem Projekt arbeitete.

    PD Dr. phil. Rotraut Walden
    University in Koblenz
    Institute for Psychology

  8. From Mariza Alves, in Lisbon - Portugal:

    I was deeply saddened to hear about Jeff Lackney’s passing. I became acquainted with Jeff's work back in 2002, and a few years later had the opportunity to be introduced to him at the DesginShare meeting in Barcelona. Jeff's substantial contribution on education planning will live on as his ideas and work continue to serve as an important source of inspiration and information for so many people who commit their professional and personal energy to improving the quality of the physical environment of our schools. My thoughts go out to Jeff's wife, son, family and friends at this sad moment.
    Warm regards,

  9. hi my name is samin.i live in iran.i want too come abroad for studying.please give me information about fund and scholarship

  10. I first met Jeff at U of Wisconsin for a continuing education class. I asked him to collaborate with me on two occasions after that when I was seeking design work in school districts. He added huge credentials to my team, yet we were not able to ever actually work together. My bad, not his. They were small projects yet he put so much into the preparation and helped me so much. He obviously loved what he was doing. Impressive man.

    If he lived closer to me I am sure we could be good friends. in fact he treated me like a good friend during our short acquaintance. No such thing as a short phone call.

    I now have some more educational work to consider so I looked up the DesignShare site and saw the link to this site. I am shocked and saddened by his passing.