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2006 CAE Educational Facility Design Awards

The 2006 CAE Design Awards program saw another great group of submissions featuring learning environments that are looking to the future. This annual program is designed to identify, honor, and disseminate the projects and ideas that exhibit innovation and excellence in the following ways:

  • Features a planning/design process that is educational, collaborative, and builds the capacity of the school and its community to support its students;
  • Enhances the client's educational program through the thoughtful planning and design of facilities;
  • Integrates function and aesthetics in designs that also respect the surrounding community and context.

More than eight-five projects were submitted from around the country and included submissions from Canada and Mexico. The jury process resulted in much discussion about the issues facing educational architects and learning institutions around the world. The jury members were:

  • John Weekes, AIA—Dull Olsen Weekes (DOWA), Portland. John is one of the founding principals of DOWA, a firm recognized nationally for innovative school design. John served as the representative for the incoming member of the CAE Leadership Group.
  • Judy Marks, Hon. AIA—National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities (NCEF). Judy is the associate director of NCEF. In this role, Judy has shepherded the development of the clearinghouse and serves as the primary staff resource. Judy has served on several national design award juries and has conducted extensive research on best practices in teaching and learning.
  • Greg Papay, AIA—Lake/Flato Architects. Greg, a principal in charge of design for Lake/Flato, the 2004 AIA Firm of the Year. Greg is active in the design of schools, museums, nature centers, and university buildings and is known for his thoughtful approach to design.
  • Sheldon Berman—Superintendent, Hudson Public Schools, Hudson, Mass. The American Architectural Foundation recognized Hudson schools in 2005 for its redesign of the Hudson High School into a center of community. Shelly led the re-thinking of the curriculum, structure, and building design to create a facility that serves as a much broader resource to the community.
  • Tim Dufault, AIA—Cuningham Group Architecture. Tim is a principal with Cuningham Group and is head of its education studio. He served as the chair of this year’s jury as a part of his activities in the CAE leadership group.

The jury narrowed the submissions down to 16 finalists from which they bestowed four Awards of Excellence, two Awards of Merit, and two Citations. The criteria for determining whether a project received a citation, merit, or excellence award were based on the architecture’s impact on the overall project. The jury gave citations for one particular component of a design that was worthy of recognition. They gave merit awards to those projects that—although they elicited a strong architectural response—may have fallen a little short in one or two areas. Projects that received awards of excellence showed strong integration of the architecture with the learning, along with a strongly executed architectural concept.

Awards of Excellence

Centennial HT Science and Technology Centre, Toronto, Ontario
KPMB Architects.
This community college project highlights the wonderful way that architecture and learning can come together. The large volume of the lecture hall floats over the student commons area and provides for interesting and varied places for the learner to sit and either socialize or study. Its wood clad volume adds warmth while natural light fills the space. The design concept is solid, and the execution is flawless resulting in a high-quality learning environment for all the students.

Artists for Humanity Epicenter, Boston, Mass.
Kathleen Born, AIA.
Designed to serve all of the high school students in the Boston public schools, the building is a fine example of how a simple concept executed well can result in great architecture. It is the only school in the United States to achieve LEED™ Platinum status. The simple program for this building—provide flexible spaces for high school students to engage in a variety of visual arts—belies the simple design solution. A simple box creates column-free space on each floor for a variety of activities. Interior rooms all have translucent walls that bring natural light to the interior, which allows for every space to have access to daylight. Large glass garage doors can roll up to open the first floor and connect it to its neighborhood. The industrial materials on the exterior work well with the traditional brick warehouses that make up the neighborhood. Finally, the photovoltaic panels on the roof generate electricity for the building and help reduce its impact on the city. This building is a good neighbor that shows a strong understanding of how to execute a very simple concept.

North Bay Environmental Learning Center, Baltimore, Md.
Marks, Thomas Architects.
Designed as a destination for students from around the Chesapeake Bay area, the North Bay Environmental Learning Center reflects a light-handed touch of its sensitive environment with well-detailed use of simple forms and materials. Inventive uses of a simple palette of wood, metal siding, and glass give each building its own character. Interior spaces have a strong connection to the outdoors and are filled with natural light. From the water, the compound is unobtrusive and blends in with its surroundings. The volume of the spaces is reflected inside and out with an honest expression of the simple roof structures. Overall, it presents the feel of a summer camp while still having the refined quality of buildings meant to last.

Preparatoria Ecologica de la Universidad de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico
Bernardo Hinojosa, International Associate AIA.
Designed as a new building on an existing campus, this classroom/library building skillfully uses native stone, concrete, and steel to create a strong architectural statement. The simple forms of the two components—the classroom wing and the library—seem to grow from the site with a respect for the land. The use of the cool, high mass materials create spaces that would be a respite from the strong Monterrey sun and heat, eliminating the need for artificial cooling systems. The simple interiors get their strength from the materials, with just a little added color in the steel. The result is a design solution that is modern, yet reflective of its context and respectful of its site.

Awards of Merit

The Bay School, San Francisco, Calif.
Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects.
This school is an effective adaptive reuse of one of the naval facilities on the old campus of the Presidio. Simple architectural gestures, visual connection throughout the building, and playful use of color and light makes this school a wonderful place to be. The skillful reduction of the existing building down to identifiable elements that support the learning program resulted in a simple design aesthetic that honors the historic structure but gives new identity to the school.

University Academy Charter School, Princeton, NJ
KSS Architects.
This adaptive reuse of an old industrial building results in a playful environment that strongly supports the learning program. Minimal effort was given to “enhance” the older structure, leaving it more in its rough, aged condition to contrast with the new pieces that were inserted into the facility. The result is a high-quality environment that serves the program needs well, but reflects the industrial nature of the shell space. Large barn doors between the classrooms and the common areas allow teachers to open up the classroom and spill the learning activities out into the more public space.


Lewis and Clark High School, Seattle
Northwest Architectural Company.
This school was noted for its effective use of the existing historic school. The school district and the architect worked with the community to save the venerable old building and added a sensitive gymnasium/activity complex to meet the current physical education and athletic needs of the school. By saving the existing school, the architect and school district preserved a part of the heritage of the neighborhood.

The Mifflin School, Pittsburgh
Alan J. Cuteri, AIA.
This K–8 project encompassed the renovation of an existing school, the addition of new science and gymnasium spaces, and the development of a new learning court in what was the service drive for the old school. The jury recognized the project for its effective use of the old service drive and how the learning court really enhanced the building, the program, and the character of the overall school. It gave the school a new heart that everyone could rally around.


We noted several overall trends as in our review of the projects.

    1. The focus on creating sustainable solutions is growing. Many of the submissions had a strong sustainable design component, and almost all of them talked in some way about sustainability issues.

    2. Daylight is being effectively incorporated into school design. The integration of daylight into the school and classroom design is creating facilities that feel better to be in and connect better with their contexts.

    3. Simple forms used in interesting ways to create stronger design solutions. In many cases, the design solution is comprised of very simple forms organized on the site in ways that create a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces.

    4. Nontraditional materials as the skin of facilities. We saw an increasing use of nontraditional school building materials like corrugated metal, concrete, steel, fiberglass panels, stucco, and wood to create the envelope of the building. The variety of ways these materials are being used also reflects a movement toward a more complex definition of the building envelope.

    5. Color is more prevalent in both the interior and exterior. Apparently, architects and designers are not afraid to use color, because most of the submissions showed a strong use of it.

In summary, we had a tremendous group of submissions this year that reflected many new ideas in school design. Because this is an architecture-focused awards program, the jury was rigorous in its review of the projects and permeated only those that reflected a strong, well-executed architectural solution. As always, good photography was essential to a strong submission.

Return to the CAE Educational Facility Design Awards Home page.


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