2023 Educational Facilities Award
Recognizing the best in today's learning spaces
Education continues to evolve, and the projects from this year’s Education Facility Design Awards program—presented by AIA and its Committee on Architecture for Education—showcase innovation across the entire learning continuum, displaying how architects are creating cutting edge spaces that enhance modern pedagogy.
From early childhood facilities to higher education and throughout the learning continuum, architecture can be used to inspire learners, educators, administrators, and campus communities alike. This year’s nine Awards of Excellence and four Awards of Merit were vibrant examples of contemporary educational architecture.
American School Foundation of Guadalajara | High School
This new seven-story open-air structure has doubled the American School Foundation of Guadalajara’s academic space in one of Mexico’s rapidly growing cities. Bold and forward-looking in its approach to serving its 1,500 students, the school draws on the bright colors, natural materials, and crisp designs that resonate with the city’s cultural heritage and elevate campus spirit.
Boston Arts Academy
This new purpose-built facility for Boston Arts Academy, the city’s first and only public high school for the visual and performing arts, replaces its original home and nurtures a community of artists and academic innovation. The building’s innovative design allows the school to accelerate its unique program, which provides critical pathways to students who lack access to both formal arts training and college preparatory education.
Columbia Business School
With two distinct buildings that share a common DNA, this new home for Columbia Business School in New York’s West Harlem neighborhood has doubled the school’s existing square footage while providing a compelling space for students, faculty, and alumni to exchange ideas. Both buildings set the stage for dynamic interactions among the university’s different populations by shuffling faculty and student floors, an intention that’s legible in their syncopated silhouettes.
Ehrman Crest Elementary and Middle School
This new school for the Seneca Valley School District near Pittsburgh explores the intersection of elementary schools and children’s museums in the differing approaches both institutions take to inspiring children and activating learning. Informed by community input throughout the planning process, the school prioritizes learning through an array of experiences, similar to the ways in which children engage with museum exhibits.
Founders Hall, Foster School of Business
Founders Hall is a defining new addition to the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, setting a new standard on campus for embodied and operational carbon reduction. It’s the first mass timber structure on the Seattle campus, where collaborative learning and community building thrive inside a sustainable building poised to inspire future generations of students.
Harvey Mudd College, Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center
A modern jewel on Harvey Mudd College’s Edward Durrell Stone-designed campus, the Scott A. McGregor Computer Science Center and its makerspace are a vibrant nexus for project-based learning.
Health Sciences Innovation Building
As the health care industry continues to evolve into a multidisciplinary and technology-enabled field, silos around practice are being removed and care teams are transitioning to a more interprofessional model. The groundbreaking Health Sciences Innovation Building at the University of Arizona supports this evolution and a curriculum that eschews established norms to reflect modern health care delivery.
Kent State University, Design Innovation Hub
In revitalizing Kent State University’s John Andrews-designed art building at the center of campus, this project shapes an egalitarian environment that gathers students, faculty, and experts from a wide range of disciplines under one roof. Supporting the university’s maker community in a light-filled and interconnected space, the Design Innovation Hub advances the school’s legacy of creative exploration while offering a flexible framework to accommodate its next generation of innovators.
Powell Elementary School
Merging old and new, the modernization of Washington, D.C.’s Powell Elementary School has shaped a vibrant, green, and healthy learning environment that accommodates the school’s rapidly expanding program. The project combines two new additions and the renovation of a historic brick building through a biophilic approach that bolsters a connection with the cycle of the day and the changing seasons. It also introduces the city to its first-ever solar chimneys.
Siebel Center for Design
A place to learn design thinking through experimentation, prototyping, and making, the Siebel Design Center at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is the only ground-up, interdisciplinary design center of its kind in the country. The LEED Gold-certified facility offers the spaces and tools that directly respond to the shifting nature of higher education and the university’s desire to recruit the next generation of creative visionaries.
Southeast Community College Academic Excellence Center
The Academic Excellence Center for Southeast Community College in Nebraska solves one of the most paradoxical challenges facing many community colleges: creating a broader community among a nontraditional, commuter-based population. Focused on introducing equitable opportunities for study and connectivity to the rural context that drives the college’s STEM programs, the center is a differentiator that accelerates the value proposition for today’s learners.
Thaden Bike Barn
In Bentonville, Arkansas, Thaden School is an exciting new model for education that combines a unique curriculum melding academic excellence with learning by doing.
University of Illinois at Chicago, Academic and Residential Complex (UIC ARC)
Soaring enrollment at the University of Illinois at Chicago prompted this project, the university’s first living-learning community. Designed as a nod to the work of Walter Netsch, the campus’ original architect, the complex addresses the university’s critical needs while also serving as a vital bridge between its architecturally rich past and its innovative future.