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‘Ridges’ campus architects win two prestigious awards for innovation, welcoming campus

posted Feb 2, 2012, 1:54 PM by Brad Buys
The students and staff at Edy Ridge Elementary School and Laurel Ridge Middle School know they are lucky to spend their days in a new, state-of- the-art facility, so they probably weren’t surprised to learn that the campus was honored recently with two awards.

Norm Dull of Dull Olsen Weekes Architects, which designed the campus, presented the awards to the Sherwood School Board at its Dec. 13 meeting.

The campus earned the Council of Educational Facility Planners International Merit Award plus a Learning by Design Honorable Mention from Stratton Publishing & Marketing Inc. and the National School Boards Association.

“The Washington Chapter of CEFPI issued an award of merit for this project which states the award is for ‘responsiveness to program and community; innovation and adaptability to changes in educational delivery’ and ‘exemplary demonstration of design that encourages learning within the local and global context,’” Dull said. “The Council of Educational Facility Planners International is an organization of designers, planners, educators and suppliers that deal with the design and planning of educational facilities.

“Generally, we submit applications to various organizations that recognize excellence in school planning and design.”

The Learning by Design award lauded the concept of creating two separate schools joined by a connective commons area and a shared community building to create a “welcoming campus,” according to an article by Sally Zakariya for Learning by Design.

“The transparency of the media center walls ‘draws you straight into the room,’” (the architects) said, noting that the glazed glass used in the media center is also used for a portion of the classroom walls, creating a sense of connectivity between spaces.

“As one judge commented, ‘A little bit of the classroom gets to psychologically bleed out into the common space.’ In short, the judges said, the architects have established a hierarchy of spaces and building scale. The result is a good example of breaking space down into small learning environments.”

School district administrators could not be more thrilled with the awards.

“Our district is so proud of our Ridges campus and, though I was not in Sherwood during the bond process and construction that followed, I have the utmost respect for the diligence, vision and hard work that went into its creation,” said Superintendent Heather Cordie. “These awards affirm that hard work and vision.”

Steve Emmert, Laurel Ridge Middle School principal, said of the awards, “Dull Olson Weekes Architects demonstrated amazing creativity when they designed the Ridge(s) campus. The buildings and campus are not only beautiful, they were designed to provide learning opportunities for our students every day. Both staff and students consider calling the Laurel Ridge Middle School home a privilege.”

Equally enthusiastic is Frank Luziach, principal of Laurel Ridge Elementary School, who said, “It was very easy to work with DOWA’s team. Together, we integrated their forward-thinking design features without compromising the functionality we needed to integrate to help kids learn.”

BY BARBARA SHERMAN

The Sherwood Gazette, Feb 1, 2012

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