Forward-Thinking School Design Inspires Teachers
The 2008 DesignShare Awards for the best scholastic
by Richard Rapaport
Since 2006, subscribing wholeheartedly to the need to share the best of scholastic design, dutopia has published a sampling of winners of the annual DesignShare awards for exceptional scholastic architecture. The competition is juried by a team of prominent architects, landscapers, designers, and educators under the aegis of the Minneapolis- and Tampa-based architecture and planning firm Fielding Nair International.
DesignShare has long argued that school design and architecture need to be as much about caps, gowns, and mortarboards as about mortar, steel, and bricks. For nearly a decade, Randy Fielding and Prakash Nair and their group have searched the globe for school projects that utilize design as a creative tool for scholastic achievement.
The DesignShare annual awards began in 2000, and to date the spotlight of honor has shone on a range of exemplary school projects from such countries as Argentina, Australia, Canada, Germany, Iceland, India, Iran, Israel, Mexico, and Singapore, as well as new construction and renovations from around the United States. Every year, competitors are asked two questions in order to seek out tangible expressions of DesignShare's key theme, Designing for the Ever Changing Future of Learning.
According to Fielding, the awards program's co-creator, the operative motivating idea can be found in the latter half of the award's name: Share. "What we really need to do," Fielding says in describing a critical standard fostered by the DesignShare Awards, "is to move from a competitive to a collaborative prototype that allows us to share great school design worldwide."
With the following selections, we offer five of this year's DesignShare winners, all but one from the United States. This year, what most prominently characterizes the winning projects is the trend toward architecture that increasingly aims to serve as a physical, tangible, multidimensional primer to inform and inspire students and teachers as vividly as the best books, curricula, and educational Web sites.
Academy of Information
Technology & Engineering
DesignShare Recognized Value
Designer: Fuller and D'Angelo PC Architects and Planners
The Academy of Information Technology & Engineering is a three-story, 121,000-squarefoot interdistrict magnet high school serving communities in Connecticut. The school is designed to engage its 650 students with a college-prep and honors course load that includes intensive elements of information technology and preengineering.
The cutting-edge architecture uses an open plan that exposes the sculptural aspect of structural, mechanical, electrical, and information technology elements. This visual transparency imparts important insights into the fundamentals and functions of design and construction, symbolizing the school's curriculum and helping immerse students in the fundamentals and functions of the various technical fields they study.
The George Lucas Educational Fundation
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