Ample daylight, natural ventilation, and a connection to the landscape are among the features found in educational facilities recognized this month by the American Institute of Architects.

On August 12, the AIA’s Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) announced the 13 winners of this year’s CAE Educational Facility Design Awards. Beyond honoring architects for exemplary work, the program aims to identify trends in educational design and disseminate knowledge about best practices in the educational sector. Awards were given in three categories: Excellence, Merit, and Citation.

Jurors included: Chair, Gerald (Butch) Reifert, FAIA, Mahlum Architects, Seattle; Daniel Friedman, FAIA, dean of the College of the Built Environment, University of Washington, Seattle; Patricia Wasley, dean of the College of Education, University of Washington, Seattle; William Leddy, FAIA, Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, San Francisco; Margaret Gaston, executive director of The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, Santa Cruz, California; and Caroline Lobo, AIA, Orcutt Winslow Partnership, Phoenix.

Indian Community School
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Antoine Predock Architect PC
Set on a 200-acre wooded site 10 miles outside of downtown Milwaukee, the Indian Community School follows the area’s natural rolling topography, connecting students to the surrounding landscape. The design called for the restoration of the prairie and wetlands to create an outdoor learning experience, which seamlessly ties into the interior spaces. Where floor level changes occur, platforms linked by ramps create gathering spaces and small teaching areas.

Yale University Sculpture Building and Gallery
New Haven, Connecticut
Kieran Timberlake
Kieran Timberlake’s Sculpture Building features a high-performance façade that introduces natural light into the building, while reducing solar gain through low-e glazing and exterior shading devices. Interior spaces feature utilitarian, unfinished surfaces with exposed steel trusses and eight-foot-high operable windows that reduce the need for air conditioning in this LEED-Platinum building. The three-level structure contains individual and group studios, machine shops, and a gallery for student work and guest exhibitions. Completed in only 22 months—less than half the timeframe of a typical university project—this new addition to the Yale campus is the product of a fully integrated design process.

Environmental Education/Visitor Activity Center
National Park Service, Pennsylvania
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
This visitor center reflects the National Park Service’s commitment to environmental stewardship through use of recycled materials. On the northern façade, shingles cut from discarded tires, which were reclaimed from nearby park grounds, require little maintenance and have a low environmental impact. Arriving at the site, visitors pass through a forest, cross a wetland, enter the building through an opening in the dark north wall, and go through a bar of service spaces into the bright, day-lit main room, which frames views of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area and takes advantage of prevailing breezes.


Francis Parker School
San Diego, California
Lake|Flato Architects
Recapturing the spirit of its original 1912 structure, the Francis Parker School is a series of classrooms and academic buildings punctuated by operable windows and connected by external circulation. Common spaces between classrooms open up to landscaped exterior spaces, providing flexible meeting environments for students and encouraging connectivity to the environment. Lake|Flato Architects used high-performance envelopes and environmental systems to significantly reduce operating costs.

ASU Polytechnic Academic Complex
Mesa, Arizona
RSP Architects, Ltd. in association with Lake|Flato Architects
The design team transformed 16 acres of a former U.S. Air Force base into a social and academic hub for ASU Polytechnic students. Shaded courtyards provide exterior learning spaces where students from a wide variety of disciplines converge. Built to meet the LEED-Silver certification standards, this new complex engages the surrounding desert by creating a series of inviting outdoor spaces.

Camino Nuevo High School
Los Angeles, California
Daly Genik
Built in the shadow of U.S. 101 in Los Angeles, Camino Nuevo School is bounded by four busy streets and sits on just over an acre of land. At 30,000 square feet, the building takes advantage of every square foot, with an interior courtyard that snakes between day-lit classroom spaces, a multi-media center, and an administrative wing. The street facing facades are clad with perforated corrugated metal painted with stripes of yellow and light gray. A relatively cheap material, the metal also dampens street noise and controls sunlight, which limits air conditioning and reduces energy costs.

Canada’s National Ballet School
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects
KPMB’s new campus preserves existing heritage buildings and links them to the Celia Franca Training Centre, which houses common spaces, classrooms, and 12 large dance training studios. The center is composed of three transparent, elevated structures that asymmetrically align around the historic Northfield House (1856), and connect to other  existing buildings through a series of bridges. Viewed from the street, the curtain-walled structure reveals the inner workings of the school and performance spaces, visually linking the school to Toronto. Inside, students and faculty gather in the Town Square, a large enclosure where the Northfield House intersects the modern addition.


Cornell University West Campus Residential Initiative
Ithaca, New York
Kieran Timberlake
Kieran Timberlake’s student housing provides immersive living-learning centers for 1,2500 undergraduate students at Cornell. These new residences complement the existing 20th century collegiate design with black-brick facades accented with granite, slate shingles, and a copper trim. The dining hall pavilion marks a departure from the historic Gothic facades with curtain walls and a green roof that visually extends into the  landscape.

Staples Elementary School
Easton, Connecticut
The S/L/A/M Collaborative
Replacing an outdated and overcrowded school, this 121,000-square-foot elementary school blends modern materials with an agrarian-inspired aesthetic. Stone cladding set next to red paneling evokes classic New England barns, and a cylindrical atrium mimics the form of a grain silo. Inside, light-filled hallways, high-ceiling libraries, and a gym with exposed steel trusses create bright spaces for children to learn and play.

Ralph Ellison Campus
Chicago, Illinois
OWP|P converted an existing elementary school into a new high school by modifying classrooms and building an addition for administrative offices, a cafeteria, library, and science classrooms. The design reused most of the existing walls, wood floors, wood trim, and terrazzo. It also replaced older fenestration with thermally insulated windows to improve energy efficiency and lighting within the space. The building’s history is embedded in the new addition, where a quote from Ralph Ellison, the influential African-American writer who the school was named after, is sandblasted into the glass façade.

Avon Old Farms Beaston Performing Arts Center
Avon, Connecticut
The S/L/A/M Collaborative
Originally built and designed by female architect Theodate Pope Riddle in 1927, the Avon Old Farms campus is based on the 16th century architecture of Cotswold, England. S/L/A/M Collaborative maintained this vernacular architecture by incorporating similar forms and brownstone into the new performing arts center. Set on the prominent campus green, the center provides practice and performing spaces for students with a new auditorium that has superior acoustics.

Citation (Unbuilt)

Modular Zero Energy Classroom
Anderson Anderson Architecture
This new classroom produces more energy than it consumes, making it an energy-positive environment. Sustainable features include a photovoltaic roof, shaded windows and a modulated ventilation system. The firm’s design also strives to lower operating costs and increase the efficiency of manufacturing and transportation. The system performance will be monitored and broadcast on the Web to educate students about energy efficiency.

Green Dot Animo Leadership High School
Lennox, California
Pugh + Scarpa Architects, Inc.
As the first public school in the country to provide 100 percent of its own energy needs, Green Dot hopes to set the standard for 21st-century secondary education. Narrow floor plates increase daylight and natural ventilation, creating spacious and comfortable environments for students. These smaller floor plates also lend themselves to reduced class sizes, creating a more intimate learning environment.