WASHINGTON, DC (November 10, 2015)-- Four teams of middle school students met at the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) LearningSCAPES Conference in San Diego to compete in the final leg of the 2015 SchoolsNEXT competition.   SchoolsNEXT highlights school infrastructure that inspires transformation in education, enhances student and teacher performance and contributes to community culture and vitality. 

Over 3,000 students representing nearly 100 school districts from schools around the globe participated in the 2015 program.  The competition challenges students from across the globe to think creatively as they plan and design tomorrow’s 21st century learning environments to enhance innovative ways of teaching and learning, be healthy, conserve resources, be environmentally responsive and engage the surrounding community.  This is a 21st Century learning approach where students are enabled, engaged and empowered through a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum, including leadership and teamwork proficiencies, to master the skills they need to succeed in today’s global economy. 

John Sumlin, Tandus Centiva, aptly described the program.  “We believe this program epitomizes the vision of the organization.  SchoolsNEXT exemplifies a truly hands on, project based learning experience, integrating all of the skillsets of the building’s client, the learners of tomorrow!”

Judy Hoskens, REFP, LEED AP, SchoolsNEXT chair and A4LE Board member, poignantly remarked, “These promising young designers demonstrated their ability to rethink education, inspire change and create meaningful learning experiences for all learners and their communities.  Preparing a pathway for tomorrow’s learners and leaders, their desire to make a difference in the world was remarkable and humbling.”

Walking away with top honors, Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School, Alberta, Canada, received the Award of Excellence.  Capturing the Award of Distinction was the engaging St.Michael’s Academy team from Springfield MA.  The impassioned team from Ligon Middle School, Raleigh, NC, won the Award of Merit.   And, the Award of Commendation went to very thoughtful and innovative Bullis Charter School team from Los Altos, CA.

How would you like to explore a modern, innovative and eco-friendly 21st century school that promises to make learning more engaging for students in Canada’s North?  Traveling all the way from Okotoks, Alberta, the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School team related their experience of working with students in Fort Providence, a First Nations community in the Northwest Territories, in an effort to transform their singular K-12 building educating 170 children into a community icon. Meet Providence Academy … a school inspired by innovation and the ideals of modern architecture, principle-driven design, strong cultural representation, 21st century technology and advanced environmentally-friendly systems. 

With their articulate division of labor and an incredible investigation into a culture far from them, an experience tailored around their meticulous research resulted in Providence Academy, where learning exploded beyond its walls.   Demonstrating their passion for encouraging optimal student learning and engaging community involvement and culture in this remote area, the team conducted vigorous research on best practices in education.  Providence Academy’s wave-like design and igloo motive are representative of the locale and people for whom they hoped to design. Learning that traditional school models do not always benefit students in isolated communities, they envisioned a modern, green school designed to reduce isolation and engage learners of all ages through culturally relevant programming. 

The young men from St. Michael’s Academy presented a convincing Vision of how a site responds to the urban context and community, demonstrating a strong connection between community, peripheral learning experiences and athletics.  With their Vision, they fulfilled a real community need.  The project determined that growth of true community emanated from the pronounced synergy between athletics + academics + citizenship – a provocative reference to the spirit ethic of the ancient Greeks, mind boy. By engaging their passion for sports, the team made it clear that equitable education and learning were of paramount importance to them.  Their dedication to true community service was astounding.  While designing their learning environment, which had several iterations, and creating an actual budget for their project, the St. Michael’s team met with a real estate agent and developer and sought ideas from many community members. Demonstrating great purpose, passion and empathy, the students plan to continue their campaign for a new community center for Springfield. Truly, these young men are making a difference!

 Envision a self-sufficient, eco-friendly boarding school located on Falls Lake, NC.  With a science-focused curriculum, the NCIII provides a superb local resource, providing hours of service, resources, knowledge and income to the surrounding community.  Demonstrating exceptional research of the needs of the community, exploring community growth and environmental impacts, the students designed solutions that provided a healthy and sustainable environment, but most importantly inspired changes in the future of education for the entire community. Through rigorous research of the needs of their community, exploring community growth and environmental impacts, the students focused on designing community solutions with the future in mind.  Replete with flexible learning spaces, maker spaces and eco-furnishings, the North Carolina Institute of Innovation displays remarkable teamwork, a desire to empower students and a passion to change the future of learning. They provided solutions not only for their school, but for their entire community. 

With an eye to the connection between learning and community, Dedication Elementary challenges the traditional grade structure, offering a facility for the future with distinct learning environments for auditory, visual, kinesthetic and reading and writing learners.  Outdoor learning space were celebrated, both in function and form, given the farm, internal play yard and flowers.  The Bullis team’s Dedication Elementary had a great focus on diversity and cultural celebration, evident in their radial built environment, reinforcing safety, security, equality and “community.” Their “Diversity Day” embodies a community celebration of cultural differences.  Cylindrical solar panels and other innovative sustainable features were incorporated and the spirit of fun was not lost on these students.

“Each year, Judy and I have the distinct pleasure of experiencing the best and the brightest from across our continent and often from around the world,” commented David Schrader, AIA, LEED AP, vice chair, A4LE. “Their desire to rethink education, empower students and create true community is remarkable.  I am sure you will agree with me when I say, ‘our future is in good hands.’” 

The Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), formerly the Council of Educational Facility Planners (CEFPI), is the only professional organization whose primary purpose is improving the places where children learn.  With approximately 4,400 members, A4LE encompasses six geographic regions across the United States, and supports regional representation in Canada, Australasia, and the UK.  A4LE embraces a collaborative network of professionals with one single goal – building healthy, safe, resilient and sustainable 21st Century learning places that inspire transformation in education, enhance student and teacher performance, and support culture and community vitality. To learn more, visit www.a4le.org or follow us on Twitter @A4LE2.


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Barbara C. Worth

Director of Strategic & Private Development                                                                                                      


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


 Education Week, By Sean Cavanagh - Apple founder Steve Jobs' widow has launched a $50 million competition to create new high school designs that maximize student engagement and achievement....The homepage of its new website, xqsuperschool.org, features a rotating scroll of challenges: "Rethink high school," it says. "Rethink the bell. Rethink repetition. Rethink desk time. Rethink the questions. Rethink the answers. Rethink knowledge." It flashes a list of questions: "What if we take our desks outside? What if we knock down the walls? What if learning is a game?"

Fifty million dollars in funding is available to support at least five schools over a five-year period, the website says. Applicants are expected to submit their concepts by November to confirm eligibility, with "discover and design" phases of the applications due in February. Finalists will be chosen in April, and winners announced next August. Resources on the Super School Project's website walk applicants through the process, and provide materials to support them as they design their ideas.



Brailsford & Dunlavey Industry Insights: The Community Builder - Experience has taught us that one size does not fit all in the world of educational facility planning. Facility planning and implementation principles must be guided by a sound understanding of the various ways students learn, the skills required for their success, and how facilities need to operate and perform.

As Brailsford & Dunlavey, Greg Smith, explained in his recent article for the Educational Facilities Clearinghouse blog, 21st century learning is “… more than just handing out iPads.” The fact is, many people equate educational progress with the advancement of technological devices, not to the skills required to be successful in tomorrow’s economy. School design in the United States has evolved over the past century, influenced by advancements in technology along with political and social movements, economic trends, and research into how students learn best.

These four skills -- critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity – should be considered when planning and designing school facilities and learning spaces.  Read the full article by Clicking HERE


Grand Rapids, Mich. – TowerPinkster, a West Michigan architecture and engineering firm specializing in education, commercial health care and government building design, recently announced the promotion of its Director of Design, Jason Novotny, AIA, LEED AP, to Senior Principal and to serve on the Board of Directors.

Jason has more than 18 years of architectural design experience and has served as TowerPinkster’s Director of Design for 5 years. During this time, he has built a team of 11 design professionals along with providing dozens of internship opportunities for architecture and interior design students. His team has earned more than 35 awards for their design work.

Arnold Mikon, TowerPinkster’s President and CEO stated, “Jason’s years of experience and the work he has completed for several large clients makes him deserving of this promotion and becoming a part of our board of directors.”

Some of Jason’s most notable projects include Catalyst Development’s Mixed Use development, Corporation Hall; Arcadia Ales New Brewery and Distribution Center; Kalamazoo Nature Center’s Nature’s Way Preschool; along with projects currently underway such as Western Michigan University’s East Hall transformation into an Alumni Center, the expansion of the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo’s Portage Facility and Central Michigan University’s Grawn Hall renovation and addition.


TowerPinkster is an architecture and engineering design firm with offices in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo, Michigan.  The firm is committed to the design of superior, healthy and sustainable environments for clients and communities.  Recent work includes projects for Metro Health, Western Michigan University, Grand Valley State University, Kalamazoo Public Schools, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent County, Kalamazoo County and the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.  Visit TowerPinkster online at towerpinkster.com andwww.Facebook.com/TowerPinkster

LOS ANGELES (June 26, 2015) – Rachlin Partners was recognized at the 45th Annual Los Angeles Architectural Awards on June 18, 2015 during a gala luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles Business Council.  The firm accepted the prestigious award certification for Bonita Center for the Arts, a winner in the Education category.

The new $22 million Bonita Center for the Arts – designed as a community landmark that educates as well as ties the local School District with the community – is located at 800 W. Covina Blvd., San Dimas, CA.  The architecturally significant structure includes computer-operated sun louvers, a red circular stairwell serving as a signature design element, and an acoustic quality on par with world-renowned performing arts venues. In addition to Rachlin Partners, the design team behind the Bonita Center for the Arts consisted of general contractor Tilden-Coil Constructors, landscape architect L.A. Design Associates, structural engineer R.M. Byrd, mechanical engineer GLUMAC, theater consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, acoustical engineer Newson Brown and LEED consultant Verde Concepts.




“We are honored to win the Education award for Bonita Center for the Arts,” says Michael Rachlin, AIA, LEED AP, Partner of Rachlin Partners.  “First envisioned on the community’s ‘wish list’ some 25 years ago, the Center began to take shape only recently through community workshops and meetings between the District and the prestigious design team. We are thrilled to see the Center already thriving within the local community – as well as receiving architectural accolades.”

More than 40 world-class projects from a diverse spectrum of the architectural field were celebrated at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for their design excellence and community impact. Featuring an engaging keynote address by world-renowned architect Shigeru Ban, winner of the 2014 Pritzker Architecture Prize, the annual event drew a crowd of approximately 600 of the region’s leading architects, designers, building professionals and media. Entire project teams – including building owners, designers, contractors and developers – were honored for their contributions to exceptional design in L.A. County and beyond.

“The L.A. Architectural Awards are an opportunity for us to recognize and celebrate outstanding projects that marry excellent design with meaningful sustainability,” says Los Angeles Business Council President Mary Leslie. The winning projects exemplify the entrepreneurial, innovative spirit that makes Los Angeles unique.”

A distinguished jury of owners, contractors, architects and civic leaders selected this year’s winners from hundreds of submissions. The Grand Prize went to the project team behind the restoration of the iconic, Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Hollyhock House. Councilmember Bob Blumenfield, LADWP Director of Economic Development Kecia Washington and Haworth Director of Business Development Ron Frantz honored the winners of a new competition — the LADWP Community Impact Award Landscape Design Competition — which recognized projects for outstanding innovation in environmentally conscious and water-conserving landscape architecture.

For the fourth year in a row, the Architectural Awards featured a design contest among students at the top six architecture schools in Los Angeles County, in this case participating in an intensive two-week competition to develop a vision and design for the South Wetland Park Facility. A video about the 2015 Julius Shulman Emerging Talent Award student design competition is available at the LA Business Council’s website, www.labusinesscouncil.org.

For 45 years, the LABC has hosted the Los Angeles Architectural Awards ceremony and luncheon to honor design teams for both their aesthetic vision and their contributions to the community as a whole. Please visit www.labusinesscouncil.org or contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information about the 2015 Architectural Awards, including video footage of the ceremony and photos of all project winners.



About Rachlin Partners

Rachlin Partners is an award-winning, fully integrated architecture, planning, interior design, program management and construction management organization. Established in 1982 in Los Angeles, California, Rachlin Partners has expanded into one of the top 40 architecture firms in L.A. today, as named by the Los Angeles Business Journal. Rachlin Partners believes in socially responsible public architecture that is innovative as well as authentic. Approximately 80% of their projects involve public funding. Rachlin Partners has learned that certain responsibilities come with public work, thus encouraging public input, as it enriches the design and makes it truly representative of the community for which it is intended. For more information visit: www.rachlinpartners.com.

About the Los Angeles Business Council

The Los Angeles Business Council is one of the most effective and influential advocacy and educational organizations in California. For over 70 years, the LABC has had a major impact on public policy by harnessing the power of business and government to promote environmental and economic sustainability in the Los Angeles region. To learn more, please visitwww.labusinesscouncil.org.

Volume 26/Spring 2017 

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