Design Is… Award Market Winners Announced

June 17, 2014

Firms celebrated for design excellence in education

Five education projects were recognized through the Shaw Contract Group Design Is…Award program.

In its ninth year, the Shaw Contract Group Design Is… Award program honors architecture and design firms that are changing the very idea of what design is. Recently, the winners were announced for the Market Award, representing the highest caliber of work within an industry segment. An esteemed group of design professionals selected 40 winners out of more than 350 entries submitted from 25 countries. Of those entries, five projects stood out as education segment winners. The Market Award winners will advance to the Global Award program.

“The education market is seeing a significant shift to carpet tile and much growth because of that,” says John Stephens, vice president of marketing for Shaw Contract Group. “This year’s education winners reflect that growth, as well as how design profoundly impacts the mission of the space and its positive effect on the people that use it.”

Judging the education category were three distinguished members of the design community, all with a strong education focus:

  • Amber Lake, Interior Designer, MHTN Architects
  • Kelly Shaw, Interior Designer, BCRA
  • Valerie Gow, Principal, Gow Hastings Architects.

The jury evaluated each project based on its design solutions, reviewing the challenges, processes and results of each project and how each design team defined design through their work.

Winning projects in the education segment include:

Education Winner: Substance Architecture | Des Moines, IA

Project: Bergstrom Football Complex, Iowa State University | Ames, IA

As a Division I Football program, Iowa State University requested a facility that was functional, cost effective, and, perhaps most of all, one that communicated the spirit and energy of Cyclone Football to current players and potential recruits. To maximize the effectiveness and impact of the facility, two of its most important functional spaces—the indoor practice facility and the 12,000 square foot strength training space—were highlighted.

These two spaces play significant roles in player development and, as a result, are the spaces that recruits and their families are most interested in seeing. Daylight is used to illuminate these spaces and add a sense of energy. To further enhance their visual impact, carefully developed graphics were integrated into the design, as well as extensive use of the team colors—cardinal and gold. The result is a high-impact, state-of-the-art training facility that, after just two seasons of use, has significantly improved the Cyclones athletic and recruiting performance.

Education Winner: Nikken Sekkei Ltd | Tokyo, Japan

Project: JOSAI University Educational Corporation, Tokyo Kioicho Campus Building 3 | Tokyo, Japan

Because of space constraints and high costs, a university in central Tokyo is almost impossible. Under these circumstances, the challenge for the client is to keep necessary class rooms and create places where their students can spend free time effectively and efficiently.

As a solution, the cafeterias and libraries are designed to be also used as a place of learning commons. The corridor has several alcove-like small places where students can meet and spend time together. The total floor space is limited due to the regulation, but these innovated places like outside terraces, roof tops and semi open spaces contribute to widening students' activities.

The facilities and buildings are integrated into a network, where students can join, meet, and spend time together as they wish.

Education Winner: VMDO Architects, P.C. | Charlottesville, VA

Project: Buckingham County Primary and Elementary Schools | Dilwyn, VA

VMDO designed and coordinated the architecture, interiors, graphics, and landscape with the understanding that design decisions can impact school practices and, subsequently, healthy behaviors among children and community members. Working closely with the school, as well as public health scientists, the design team integrated healthy design strategies into the comprehensive re-design of the K-5 campus.

To document the effects of these healthy strategies, the design-research team co-created "Healthy Eating Design Guidelines for School Architecture" (CDC, 2012), a set of guidelines that provides new insight into how school environments can promote healthy eating behaviors, support active communities, and reduce incidence rates of childhood obesity. Both the interiors package and indoor-outdoor educational spaces reinforce the guidelines by utilizing building and landscape features to educate and encourage the school community towards healthy life-long decision-making.

The integrated graphics and interiors—including a distinct color and material palette, wayfinding content, and educational signage illustrating engaging facts about healthy eating, hydration, physical activity, and energy conservation – transform the school into a teaching tool. While indoors, reading nooks and study stations transform circulation pathways into child-centric "learning streets," outdoors, large-scale circulation elements such as gardens and walking paths provide active outdoor education spaces linked by foodscapes and ecological habitats.

The holistic indoor-outdoor learning campus promotes integrated learning opportunities and fosters healthy, FoodSmart Kids®.

Education Winner: AHM Brands & Envelop Design | Architecture + Interiors | Eugene, OR

Project: UO Track and Field Office | Eugene, OR

Not only did the space undergo a dramatic transformation, but the collaborative vision of a unique interdisciplinary partnership generated a space with strong identity at all levels of scale. The University is steeped in track and field heritage with a vast portfolio of legendary athletes, iconic innovators of the sport, and signature national events it has hosted.

The primary objective for the space was to tell this story and extend the university brand into the experiential realm, while also meeting the functional needs of the department. New finishes were thoughtfully selected to support the function and identity of the space, balancing bold colors and patterns to support, but not compete with, the other visual content throughout.

The most intricate challenge of this project was to design a solution for displaying and organizing trophies, awards, photos, and other assets. The design team addressed this by infusing the content throughout the space, often layering information to incorporate a storytelling component that reinforces the spatial narrative.

The multitude of branding touch points overlay a museum-like quality on the functional office space in an exciting and appealing way that aids in recruitment of athletes. This project is a benchmark for the synergy of inspiration, intensity, and detail that can be achieved through a truly collaborative design process.

Education Winner: Perkins+Will | Los Angeles, CA

Project: PNU Princess Nora bint Abdulrahman University for Women | Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Perkins+Will had the opportunity to create the largest university for women in the world. The challenge was to develop a way to incorporate 21st century education and building technologies into the culture, context and region. The team had to take into account climate, security and cultural restraints to create design that transcended style and image while still rooted in tradition.

The arid desert conditions provided an opportunity for innovative sustainable ideas such as solar power, water reuse, regional planting and the use of local building materials. The concepts of separation, transparency, pattern and sequence were significant in the design, in keeping with Saudi tradition, to completely segregate the female students and staff and shield them from view of any males.

The metaphor of the veils the women wear led to the enclosure of the facilities with a series of beautiful latticework partitions, known as mashrabiy'yah, which function like veils to strategically screen students setting a culturally relevant aesthetic while reducing energy consumption significantly. The partitions and screens become more or less dense as the women gradually remove their veils as they move deeper into the interior and are permitted to freely express themselves in the sanctuary-like core spaces. This 32 million square foot project brings a learning environment that is an environmentally and economically sustainable model for higher education throughout the region.

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