Best new schools and learning centers selected for AIA's 2021 Education Facility Design Awards
By Alexander Walter|
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Following the recent Library Building Award announcement, the American Institute of Architects now revealed this year's best new schools and learning centers. The Institute's Committee on Architecture for Education recognized six projects with its Awards of Excellence and five with Awards of Merit.
Charlottesville & D.C.-based VMDO Architects managed to pick up two trophies this year for campus designs in Virginia Beach and Harrisonburg, Virginia.
The 2021 Education Facility Design Award jury included Olivia Graf Doyle, Assoc. AIA (Chair), Architecture for Education, Inc; Angela Freeman, Reynolds School District; Evie Klein, Assoc. AIA, Pratt Institute; and Mathew Ryan Lowe, DLA Architects.
AWARDS OF EXCELLENCE
Belmont Day School Barn in Boston, MA
Project excerpt: "As one of the critical elements of the Belmont Day School’s master plan, the Massachusetts private school’s new barn provides ample space for its evolving STEAM and athletics programs. More than 27,000 square feet of space is divided between two stitched-together buildings: an engineered steel fieldhouse containing two dual-use basketball and volleyball courts and a stick-built steel classroom headhouse. Working in concert, the two programs provide the right combination of big and small spaces that foster collaboration among the school’s K–8 student population." ~ Read more about this project here.
Bluestone Elementary School in Harrisonburg, VA
Project excerpt: "Bluestone Elementary School's design emphasizes a range of spaces and scales for different learning opportunities that are balanced with several public areas. Its dynamic landscape and wayfinding system celebrates the city's unique geography and geology. In doing so, the team encourages students to become active stewards of the region while developing deeper connections to the world around them." ~ Read more about this project here.
Environmental Nature Center Preschool in Newport Beach, CA
LPA Design Studios
Project excerpt: "This addition to the Environmental Nature Center’s Newport Beach, California, campus supports the nonprofit organization’s mission of providing nature-based education for young people. Developed through the vision of educators, the community, and the center’s leadership, the LEED Platinum-certified preschool mirrors the existing facility in its ability to blend indoor and outdoor spaces, instilling an intuitive understanding of the natural world in children ages 2.5 to 5." ~ Read more about this project here.
Home Building at Thaden School in Bentonville, AR
Project excerpt: "In Bentonville, Arkansas, the Thaden School has emerged as a new high school that challenges traditional educational paradigms where young people learn by doing. The school’s pedagogy hinges on three central programs focused on narrative and visual communication, physics and mechanics, and the intersection of biology, chemistry, and community pertaining to the growing and preparation of food. The Home Building, informed by a comprehensive master plan developed by the design team, is a critical link for the school’s ambitions and houses its food-based program." ~ Read more about this project here.
Lafayette College Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center in Easton, PA
Project excerpt: "On its Easton, Pennsylvania, campus, Lafayette College’s new Rockwell Integrated Sciences Center sparks and strengthens interdisciplinary connections, a hallmark of its mission. The new LEED Platinum-certified building addresses the college’s need for new facilities to support growing demand for its science programs and anticipated student growth of nearly 20% in the coming years. It provides new departmental homes for biology and computer science, offering those programs teaching and research labs, support spaces and offices, a rooftop greenhouse, and an animal facility." ~ Read more about this project here.
The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact at University of Oregon in Eugene, OR
Ennead Architects in collaboration with Bora Architecture and Interiors
Project excerpt: "This new campus at the University of Oregon shapes a dynamic ecosystem rooted in discovery, innovation, and education by gathering applied sciences, business innovation, and culture under one roof. The light-filled and highly flexible space dismantles boundaries and is ready to adapt to new directions quickly. The architecture of the Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact has also forged a new, forward-looking identity for the university, taking its cues from Oregon’s landscape and collaborative ethos in establishing a new gateway straddling the university and the city of Eugene." ~ Read more about this project here.
AWARDS OF MERIT
Flight 93 Visitor and Learning Center in Stoystown, PA
Paul Murdoch Architects
Project excerpt: "In western Pennsylvania, Flight 93 National Memorial commemorates the 40 heroes that thwarted the hijackers of United flight 93 on September 11, 2001. The first new U.S. national park constructed in the 21st century, it has transformed the site of a former coal mine into a memorial landscape. This new visitor and learning center in the park enhances the visitor experience, providing educational and interpretive content that tells the story of flight 93 and that fateful day." ~ Read more about this project here.
Grant High School Modernization in Portland, OR
Project excerpt: "Sharing a 30-acre site with Northeast Portland's Grant Park, Grant High School quickly became a significant part of the community's heart when it was built in the 1920s. The historic classical revival brick and terracotta school building was beloved by former students and the larger neighborhood, immortalized in Beverly Cleary's Ramona Quimby book series. By the 1960s, a series of additions prompted by the community's rapid growth transformed the campus into a maze of outdoor passages. Despite its stature, 50 years of deferred maintenance left the school seismically deficient, inaccessible, and filled with various hazardous materials." ~ Read more about this project here.
Minnehaha Academy Upper School Reconstruction in Minneapolis, MN
Cuningham Group Architecture
Project excerpt: "In 2017, a natural gas explosion destroyed the heart of Minneapolis' Minnehaha Academy, claiming two lives and two of the school's historic structures. This progressive 72,000-square-foot campus addition turned tragedy into triumph and was designed and built in just 18 months. The new upper school embraces the Mississippi River Valley and the city's historic West River Parkway while connecting two existing buildings. Its vibrant and flexible spaces are eager to provide exceptional learning experiences for future generations of learners." ~ Read more about this project here.
Pace University Student Landscape in New York, NY
Project excerpt: "This renovation, repositioning, and reactivation project spans Pace University’s two flagship buildings in Lower Manhattan while emphasizing the school’s identity. The 55,000-square-foot project recognizes Pace University’s evolving cultural and programming needs, responding with a series of interior and exterior interventions that shape new student-centric spaces and enhance the university’s connections to New York at large." ~ Read more about this project here.
Virginia Wesleyan University Greer Environmental Sciences Center in Virginia Beach, VA
Project excerpt: "Occupying the last building location on Virginia Wesleyan University’s main quad, the new Greer Environmental Sciences Center represents the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability and its thriving cross-disciplinary sciences program. The building also serves as a new portal for students as they move across the campus, connecting them to the building’s program and natural content. Since opening, the center has transformed campus life and supported the university’s desire to broaden research opportunities for undergraduates." ~ Read more about this project here.
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