The best architectures for education chosen by the AIA

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, OPEN Architecture,

Chao Zhang, Nic Lehoux, Iwan Baan,

Shenzhen, China, Pittsburgh,

Research Center, Kindergartens, University, School, Schools & Universities, Institutions,


From nursery schools to high schools, the best architectures for education have been chosen by the Committee on Architecture for Education of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) for the first edition of the Education Facility Design Award.

The best architectures for education chosen by the AIA

At a fundamental time in human life, when all a person’s mental and physical faculties are in full development, the architecture in which we spend the most time is a school building. From nursery schools to high schools, these buildings are the first architecture we interact with and, even though we’re not aware of it, they can play a vital role in how we interact with others in the future, with the space and with architecture in general. The CAE (Committee on Architecture for Education) of theAmerican Institute of Architects (AIA), in the first edition of theEducation Facility Design Award has chosen 10 school buildings that represent excellence in the state of the art of school and educational centre design. Eight buildings have received Awards of Excellence and two have received mentions of merit. The buildings selected had to follow certain criteria, like being examples of top-level design, with rooms designed to promote students’ learning, with the right balance of aesthetics and function, establishing a link with the environment and respecting their setting and integrating sustainability in a holistic way. The winners of the Awards of Excellence also include projects presented in the pages of Floornature like The Frick Environmental Center designed by the Bohlin Cywinski Jackson studio in Pittsburgh (USA) and the Tsinghua Ocean Center designed by the Open Architecture studio in Shenzhen (China).

The Frick Environmental Center, Pittsburgh
The environmental education centre designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was praised by the jury for the way in which it combines the grounds and the surrounding landscape. The Frick Environmental Center was built near Frick Park in Pittsburgh, one of the largest municipal parks in the city. The centre offers visitors direct practical experience of environmental education, allowing them to study and experience a natural eco-system and understand modern society’s impact on that eco-system. The Frick Environmental Center has been built according to high standards of sustainability, demonstrated by its LEED Platinum certification and it is soon to receive the Living Building Challenge, considered the strictest and most complete building standard in the world.

Tsinghua Ocean Center, Shenzhen
The new ocean research centre and offices designed by Open Architecture for the Tsinghua University’s Graduate School in Shenzhen, is the only building created outside the Americas to receive an AIA award. The Center, which opened in 2016, has won numerous prizes, including the Civic Trust Award 2018 just one month ago. Both juries recognised the project’s positive role in designing the whole campus. Created on the last free lot of the campus, the Tsinghua Ocean Center offers accessible spaces to everyone, which encourage interaction between students and staff.

Here is the list of the 8 winners of Awards of Excellence:
Chatham University Eden Hall Campus; Richland Township, Pennsylvania | Mithun
Haverford College Visual Culture, Arts, and Media Building; Haverford, Pennsylvania | MSR Design
Kawartha Trades and Technology Centre (KTTC); Peterborough, Ontario, Canada | Perkins+Will Canada Inc.
Memphis Teacher Residency (MTR); Memphis, Tennessee | archimania
Pagliuca Harvard Life Lab; Allston, Massachusetts | Shepley Bulfinch
The Frick Environmental Center; Pittsburgh | Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Tsinghua Ocean Center; Shenzhen, China | Open Architecture
University of Iowa Voxman Music Building; Iowa City | LMN Architects

The two projects that received mentions of merit were:
Arlington Elementary School; Tacoma, Washington | Mahlum
and Ballet Memphis, Memphis | archimania

(Agnese Bifulco)


The Frick Environmental Center
Project: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Location: Pittsburgh (USA)
Photos: Nic Lehoux

Tsinghua Ocean Center
Project: Open Architecture
Location: Shenzhen, China
Photos: Iwan Baan, ZHANG Chao


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