DLA Architects’ Director of Design and Associate Principal Matthew Ryan Lowe had the honor of serving on the Jury for The American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education 2021 Education Facility Design Award, along with chair Olivia Graf Doyle, Assoc. AIA, Architecture for Education in Los Angeles; Angela Freeman, Reynolds School District in Portland, Ore.; and Eve Klein, Assoc. AIA, Pratt Institute in New York.
The winners were announced this week, naming 11 “state-of-the-art designs of schools and learning centers.” The awards recognize designs that meet “a host of criteria, including enhancing learning in classrooms; balancing function with aesthetics; establishing a connection with the environment; being respectful of the surrounding community; demonstrating high-level planning in the design process; and integrating sustainability in a holistic fashion,” according to an AIA press release.
“One thing that the top submissions demonstrated was a deep dive planning and visioning process that engaged a variety of key stakeholders at the commencement of each project in order to understand the unique needs of the client,” said Matt. “The success from this insightful undertaking was evident through client testimonials, actual building performance, and post-occupancy evaluations. The Framework for Design Excellence that we reflected upon as jurors while evaluating today’s elite learning environments considered the power of design to contribute to solutions addressing the most significant needs of our time. These challenges included topics such as increasing climate extremes, social inequity, and progress towards a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment.”
He went on to say “Though there is no “one size fits all solution” to educational facility design, these projects certainly give educators, architects, and communities something to strive for. Each of the award-winning submissions represents common themes. A solid foundation in a comprehensive Visioning and Planning Process (that brought to light such topics as equity, well-being, and environmental stewardship), a commitment to the AIA’s “Framework of Design Excellence,” and successful outcomes as evident in client comments, community reactions, and Post-Occupancy Evaluations. These are buildings that teach alongside the people who occupy them.”