Discovery Elementary School in Arlington, Virginia has received its first international architectural award. The school was named a 2016 Project of Distinction by the Association for Learning Environments as part of their annual Exhibition of School Planning & Awards. The 2016 exhibit is the world’s largest juried exhibit recognizing exceptional planning and inspired architectural design of high quality learning environments. The 2016 exhibit and award ceremony took place in Philadelphia, PA as part of A4LE’s LearningSCAPES 2016 Conference and Exposition.
Several members of VMDO’s K12 Studio attended the 2016 conference. Associate Principal Wyck Knox, Project Architect for Discovery Elementary School, led an educational session titled "Beyond Net-Zero Energy: The Creation of Discovery Elementary School and its Community of Explorers." Wyck was joined by Dr. Erin Russo, Principal of Discovery, and Devin Cheek of CMTA Consulting. The session focused on: recognizing zero-energy strategies for energy conservation, sustainable ecologies, project-based learning opportunities, and learning how data can drive design and operations decisions, including the limitations of predictive modeling versus energy benchmarking.
Associate Dina Sorensen and Chair of the AIA Research Task Force, facilitated an educational workshop called “Reimagining Healthy Minds / Healthy Bodies: Current Research on Spaces that Positively Impact Learners.” This workshop was the first of a series of Research Task Force dialogues sponsored by the American Institute of Architect’s Committee on Architecture for Education. The session hosts in-depth conversations with cutting edge researchers and offers an opportunity to interact with internationally recognized leaders in multiple fields including: Dr. Edith Ackermann, MIT Media Lab; Dr. Patrick Tolan, Professor at the UVA Curry School of Education and Director of Youth-Nex; Dr. Jeri Brittin, Director of Research at HDR Inc.; and Dr. Rosie Parnell, Professor at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK.
Panelist Dr. Edith Ackermann’s publications and projects on children's play, learning, and creativity have included collaborations with the LEGO Learning Institute and the LEGO Foundation, as well as the Exploratorium Museum of Arts, Science, and Human Perception in San Francisco. For more on Ackermann’s work, check out this collaborative research project on bringing tinkering to school for a glimpse into the “constructionist’s approach to STEM learning.”