Last month, two RB+B projects were acknowledged for their creative and responsive educational planning and design by the Association 4 Learning Environments’ Rocky Mountain Chapter. The Mobile Academic Classroom (Poudre School District) received a Summit Design Award (for renovations) in a special new category, appropriately dubbed the, “Magic School Bus” award. The Early Childhood Center at the Boulder Jewish Community Center took home the Peak Design Award for new construction.

Both projects were judged on criteria within four categories: (1) Planning Process, (2) Learning Environment, (3) Physical Environment, and (4) Community Environment.

The Mobile Academic Classroom (MAC) was honored for its creativity shown by a project that re-thinks what a learning environment can be. Judges shared that while the project was difficult to compare to other stationary buildings, it was, “impossible for the jury not to honor the project. The MAC is singular in its creativity and illustrates that a learning environment can occur in a multitude of forms. The jury was very impressed with the thoughtfulness evident in every inch of the transformed bus. In addition, the lightness and brightness of the overall space truly creates a unique and fun learning environment. Most importantly, the jury loved the underlying goal of extending the classroom into the community throughout the summer and the care used in designing the three discreet learning settings within the old bus.”

The ECE at the Boulder Jewish Community Center stood out to jurists for, “its overall attention to detail in all aspects of the project. The building implements the Reggio Emilia Philosophy which dictates the building serve as a neutral and natural backdrop to the children’s learning. The jury also was impressed with the commitment to the Design Advisory Group process and how the project engaged the community and realized the identified themes of Gathering and Inquisitive Play. The multi-year planning process is evident in the coordinated design of indoor and outdoor spaces. The jury appreciated the outdoor spaces being a seamless extension of the indoor spaces utilizing natural materials (water, mud and sticks) as play ‘equipment’. The playground looked and felt more like a backyard.”

RB+B design teams have been honored throughout our practice to work with visionary clients whose passion matches ours in regards to creating educational environments that are creative, functional, and responsive to helping their students grow and thrive. These two projects are examples of how a collaborative and inclusive design process can result in outstanding spaces for kids to learn.

More about the A4LE:

The Association for Learning Environments believes that:

  • Facilities impact the learning, development and behavior of the facility user;
  • The planning process is essential for quality facilities;
  • Sharing and networking improves the planning process; and
  • There is a standard by which to measure.

The organization is a non-profit whose sole mission is improving the places where children learn. Regional chapters spread this mission on a local level.