2016 Education Facilities Design


Ned A. Collier AIA, LEED AP
ICON Architecture Education Studio

Nazneen Cooper
Assistant Dean of Campus Design & Planning, Harvard University

Marcy Stefura IIDA
Stefura Associates Inc.

Jury Overview

This year, the jury examined both K–12 and higher-education facilities projects. We considered these categories separately, acknowledging the distinct challenges associated with each, particularly regarding program, user, client type, and budget. During our afternoon together, we reviewed a total of 93 submissions, most of which was work built in the Northeast by New England architects, which is on par with the number of submissions entered in 2013. Of the 93, 22 were submitted to the K-12 category, and 71 represented higher education building types.

Across both categories, the overall body of work represented competent design. Many projects set a low bar for stating design intent. We were also surprised at the minimal design thinking that was apparently applied to solve issues of universal access. In the 21st century, does a ramp really qualify as universal design? Other projects failed to demonstrate a grasp of the role that site orientation plays in a project’s sustainability strategy. In the future, we hope to see a shift away from new construction to renovation, particularly for work in New England.

We were drawn to projects that demonstrated clarity of intent. We tried not to be swayed by programmatic requirements, but rather, the innovation that was used to meet those requirements. Site design, relationship to the landscape, evidence of holistic design thinking, consideration for universal access, and yes, aesthetics, were all part of our criteria for evaluation. We also looked for work that thoughtfully applied its budget, regardless of its size. In education facilities design, interiors are extremely important. We looked for work that demonstrated sophisticated thinking, and could spark our emotions.

In the K-12 category, we honored six projects, while 12 of the Higher Education submissions rose to the top. All distinguished themselves meeting the criteria set about above.

To architects submitting projects to this program in the future, remember we are viewing your work in a single day. Provide us with executive statements that tell us clearly what you set out to do, and show us how you met those goals. This is a process of understanding. Drawings and other details, including performance data, may help. And please, pay attention to material details. If your portfolio falls apart in our hands, we may set it down more quickly you might like.

We wish to express our appreciation to the architects who submitted work to this program and to the Boston Society of Architects for the opportunity to serve as jurors.