AIA Educational Facility Design Awards Recognize Greenest Schools

Aug. 17, 2009


The American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) has selected 13 educational and cultural facilities for this year’s CAE Educational Facility Design Awards. The purpose of this program is to identify trends and emerging ideas, honor excellence in planning and design, and disseminate knowledge about best practices in educational and community facilities.

The jury’s decisions are the culmination of a rich and thoughtful dialogue between architects and educators about exemplary architecture that supports and fosters the learning experience.

Thirteen (13) awards were issued in three categories: Citation, Merit, and Excellence. 

2009 CAE Educational Facility Design Awards recipients:


Indian Community School, Milwaukee, WI
Antoine Predock Architect PC
The building follows the natural rolling topography of a former farm while preserving the remnant hardwood forest on the site. Prairie and wetlands were restored as an outdoor learning experience. Nature and those dwelling inside the structure are seamlessly connected as every space provides unique associations with the exterior environment. The school strives to maintain the connection between the students and land.

Yale University Sculpture Building and Gallery, New Haven, CT
Kieran Timberlake

The Sculpture building features a high-performance façade that incorporates solar shading; a triple-glazed, low-E vision panel; 8-foot-high operable windows; and a translucent double-cavity spandrel panel. Inhabitants are able to see the building systems and experience how they were meant to perform. The environmental performance of this structure is a product of a fully integrated design process that took the project from programming through occupancy in only 22 months – less than one-half the timeframe of a typical university process.

Environmental Education/Visitor Activity Center, National Park Service, PA
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson

A key building feature is the use of reused, recycled, or recyclable materials. Materials were selected that were durable, had long lifespans, required little maintenance, and had a low impact on the environment. Another building feature is the shingle cladding of the north façade seen as one approaches the building. These shingles, cut onsite from old, discarded tires, reclaimed from a nearby river, park grounds, and other local sources, directly challenge users to think about environmental responsibility.


Francis Parker School, San Diego
Lake|Flato Architects

The campus recaptures the spirit of its original 1912 structure. The new classrooms, punctuated by operable walls, encourage connectivity to the environment to expose the process of education, not simply the products. High-performance envelopes and environmental systems significantly reduce operating costs. The campus emphasizes vibrant, landscaped exterior spaces at its heart.

ASU Polytechnic Academic Complex, Mesa, AA
RSP Architects Ltd. in association with Lake|Flato Architects

The design transforms 16 acres of a former air force base into a dense, walkable, and shady campus. The buildings embrace shaded courtyards for exterior learning environments. The shaded exterior atriums, portals, and overall site circulation allow for diverse academic and research disciplines across the campus to interact with increased ease. The open-air atria provide intimate seating areas while visually and spatially connecting multiple departments and disciplines.

Camino Nuevo High School, Los Angeles
Daly Genik
By single-loading the main classroom building, two important social and sustainable functions were accomplished with simple solutions: direct visual connections from the classrooms to the courtyard, and natural light flows into every classroom from windows on both the street and courtyard side. The street edge walls of both the classroom building and administration wing are clad in a perforated corrugated metal to dampen sound from the busy city streets and provide sun control. By shading the building during the hottest point of the day limited air conditioning needed for cooling.

Canada’s National Ballet School, Toronto, ON
Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg Architects

The design integrates an active public realm of generous corridors, lounges, and stairwells with 12 large dance training studios, and specific programmed spaces for teaching and administration. The transparency of the design has opened the community to the art of ballet and students up to the community. The design emphasizes the art of ballet as one of storytelling, allowing the city to see the dancers.


Cornell University West Campus Residence Initiative, Ithaca, NY
Kieran Timberlake

The project was developed to provide immersive living-learning centers for undergraduate students, redefining the residential experience by drawing students more fully into the intellectual community of the university through integrated living with faculty, graduate students, and visiting scholars. Each hall has its own unique identity and intellectual tone.

Staples Elementary School, Easton, CT
The S|L|A|M Collaborative
The new 121,000-square-foot Pre K-5 school for 800+ students replaces an overcrowded, outdated elementary school with a new school that blends modern teaching philosophies with a contextual design appropriate in a town with character still inspired by agrarian buildings. The design stems from the town’s rural character, encouraging young children to relate to the facility by using welcoming colors and recognizable forms.

Ralph Ellison Campus, Chicago
The design of the building involved converting an elementary school into a high school by modifying the classrooms and creating an addition. Many of the existing walls, wood floors, wood trim, and terrazzo were retained from the original structure. The classrooms had large window openings, but two-thirds of the glazing was translucent and one-third was opaque. The new windows are thermally insulated and clear, bringing natural daylight into the classrooms, which increases student concentration and comfort.

Avon Old Farms Beaston Performing Arts Center, Avon, CT
The S|L|A|M Collaborative
By providing a place to practice and perform as well as host students, families, and visitors, the structure has become a vibrant campus icon. Its visible entrance responds to pedestrian flow from both campus and parking lots, reflecting its importance as a student-focused learning facility as well as a resource for the school population, alumni, and the surrounding community at large. The structure has superior acoustics, requiring minimal enhancement for vocal and instrumental music. 

Citation (Unbuilt)

Modular Zero Energy Classroom, Hawaii
Anderson Anderson Architecture

|The design optimizes photovoltaic roof surface orientation, shaded daylight glazing, and modulated natural ventilation. All of these forces are balanced with manufacturing and transport efficiency, functionality for classroom use, low operating costs, and ease of maintenance. The design exposes and celebrates all elements of its interaction with natural phenomena, illustrating the performance of the building relative to nature.

Green Dot Animo Leadership High School, Lennox, CA

Pugh + Scarpa Architects Inc.
As the first public school in the country to provide 100 percent of its own energy needs, Green Dot will set the standard for 21st-century secondary education. The building will itself become a living, working lesson in sustainability. The small class size is the hallmark of the Green Dot system. The narrow floor plate increases daylight and natural ventilation, complementing the small class size, to afford an overall feeling of spaciousness and comfort.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of I+S Design, create an account today!