The American Institute of Architects Lubbock Chapter announced its annual design awards this past week, with two projects designed by Parkhill, Smith & Cooper taking home top awards.

PSC’s design of McBride Elementary School (Fort Benning, Georgia) won the Honor Award – the top award given – and First Presbyterian Church (Midland, Texas) won the Merit Award.

“The PSC team is honored to work for who the true client is — school children of military families,” said Mike Baker, AIA, a Principal at PSC and K-12 architect. “These students endure challenges that are difficult to imagine. Their parents are often deployed in various conflicts worldwide, they experience grief associated from another family’s loss, and have to relocate many times throughout their education while leaving friends behind and having to make new ones. Designing a school for these students and educators has certainly been an honor.”

McBrideMcBride Elementary includes a total of seven Learning Neighborhoods — each with four Learning Studios. The classroom is no longer the teacher’s office. Collaboration among the educators is as critical to 21st Century teaching as is student collaboration. Additionally, a Group/Virtual Learning Room is included in each Neighborhood so that students can communicate with their peers at other schools and around the globe. One-to-one space provides the opportunity for individual engagement to learners who may need tutoring or counseling.

Based on the newly created DoDEA 21st Century Education Facilities Specifications, McBride Elementary is the result of an extensive research and planning process toward a new definition of how education will be delivered and the impact on school design.

PSC was one of five firms nationally to participate as thought leaders, along with educators, in the development of the 21st Century Education Specifications. Key elements of 21st Century schools are collaborative learning, collaborative teaching/planning, high visibility of technology and art programs, sustainability, connections to the outdoors, and using the school building as a teaching tool.

First Presbyterian Church was interested in connecting their facility to the community. Located in downtown Midland, FBC wanted to create a place where people in the community would feel comfortable.

An outdoor court was created immediately outside the existing chapel. Canopies provide shade to a terraced amphitheater that surrounds a plaza. Large glass doors were installed on the east side of the chapel, allowing it to be open to the court at any time. The result is an engaging, contemplative space.

“What a tremendous honor to receive the 2017 Lubbock AIA Merit Award for Frist Presbyterian Church, Midland,” said Kreg Robertson, AIA, Studio Leader for PSC’s Community Studio 2 overseeing church designs. “Dan Hart did a tremendous job early on in this project, working with the church, listening and casting the vision. It is a personal reward getting to see the church realize their vision of deepening relationships with authentic caring and growing faith, and reaching out and crossing barriers.”