BI school wins award for learning environment design

  • Thursday, November 25, 2021 8:26am
  • Life
Wood and natural lighting appeal to the senses of students.

Wood and natural lighting appeal to the senses of students.

Blakely Elementary School was honored with the Association for Learning Environments 2021 James D. MacConnell Award at the recent LearningSCAPES conference.

This international awards program recognizes excellence in educational facility planning, emphasizing the connection between the planning process and the end result.

The nine-member awards jury remarked on the school design’s “strong vision that seamlessly integrated the landscape with shared collaborative experiences that amplify student achievement and empower innovation… Very simply, this is an exquisitely beautiful project.”

In its nomination video, superintendent Peter Bang-Knudsen says the process included working with teachers, the community and students.

The design includes a shared learning indoor and outdoor space.

“It inspires a different way of teaching,” Tamela Van Winkle, former facilities executive director, says in the video.

A favorite spot for students is the library.

“I still can’t get over the difference of the behavior of the children when I read to them in this room. They are just calmer,” librarian Kathleen Pool says.

Bang-Knudsen said the school was designed with flexibility in mind.

“We don’t know what education is going to look like” in the future, he says, adding they do know it already is changing from teacher-centric to student-centric “to support the needs of a changing child.”

Surrounded by trees, the campus was built so it would connect children with multiple senses. Bang-Knudsen said it inspires engagement, interaction and socialization.

“It’s a beacon of hope and … pride for the entire community,” he says.

Many windows allow students to see others enjoying the outdoors.

Many windows allow students to see others enjoying the outdoors.

The landscape of the school is on a slight slope from the meadows to the trees.

The landscape of the school is on a slight slope from the meadows to the trees.

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