AIAS and Kawneer “School of Tomorrow” Student Design Competition Winners Selected

February 24, 2011

Students of Architecture and Design Use Creativity and Skills to Design Plan for Modern School Using Architectural Aluminum Building Products

WASHINGTON & NORCROSS, Ga.--The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) and Kawneer Company, Inc., an Alcoa business, announced today the winners of the “Schools of Tomorrow” student design competition. The Kawneer-sponsored competition, now in its fifth year, challenged students to learn about architectural aluminum building products and systems in the design of a modern and creative school for students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. Ball State University’s Susan Butts was awarded first place and $2500 for “Propel Elementary School.”

The competition received more than 200 entries from nearly 300 students of architecture across 16 countries. Participants were required to research, highlight and respond to the unique aspects of designing an attractive and modern elementary school that will serve the needs of its community for years to come. Competition objectives also include developing an understanding of materials and techniques that can help earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification points while creating a bright and fun atmosphere for learning.

Submissions were evaluated by a jury comprised of architectural experts with experience in designing educational facilities. They were assessed based on ingenuity and originality, as well as appropriate use of sustainable products and design clarity. Jurors included: Russell A. Davidson, AIA; James Determan, AIA; and Scott E. Powell, AIA, LEED AP. In discussing the selection criteria, Determan noted, “The winning designs have successfully incorporated Kawneer’s products using sustainable strategy such as daylighting to make innovative learning environments, creating inspiring spaces and using the building as a teaching tool.”

Prizes were awarded as follows:

Susan Butts - Ball State University, “Propel Elementary School”
First Place ($2500)
With Seattle as its setting, Butts’ school was designed as an extension of Seattle’s Lake Union Park to influence holistic learning experiences to its community and students. It was inspired by the city’s vibrant history, natural spirit and progressive goals.

Nate Boykin - Clemson University, “FORMative Interaction”
Second Place ($1500)
In his design, Boykin wanted “to transform [the school] experience from a child's perspective and at the same time offer teachers versatility with their spaces. If teachers only have one way to teach- only one type of student can learn. A variety of spaces mean a variety of interactions that can meet every type of student need.”

Tang Heng Quanh and Mario Christian Lavorato – University of Toronto, “The Hive: Alternative Learning Center”
Third Place ($750)
Quanh and Lavorato stated that they felt “schools were too stratified and tended to stifle social interaction between students of differing grades or classes, specifically between youngest and eldest.” Their design was intended to give students a sense of belonging and reduce the anxiety associated with age, grade or class divide.

The Jury awarded Honorable Mentions ($500) to Jansel Irarragorry (University of Central Florida, “Unparalleled”), Gregor Schuller (Technische Universität Cottbus, “Montessori-Primary School Schwarzheide”) and Chris Simmons and Melissa Klemeyer (Ball State University, “A Living School”).

Winning entries may be viewed at and will be published in the Spring 2011 issue of Crit: Journal of the AIAS. In addition, they will be displayed at the AIAS FORUM 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona from December 29, 2011 - January 1, 2012. For more information on AIAS, please visit To learn more about Kawneer, please visit

About the AIAS

The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) is an independent, nonprofit, student-run organization dedicated to providing unmatched programs, information, and resources on issues critical to architectural education. The mission of the AIAS is to promote excellence in architectural education, training, and practice; to foster an appreciation of architecture and related disciplines; to enrich communities in a spirit of collaboration; and to organize students and combine their efforts to advance the art and science of architecture.

About Kawneer

With more than 100 years of innovation and experience, Kawneer North America is headquartered in Norcross, GA, and is the leading manufacturer of architectural aluminum products and systems for the commercial construction industry. Kawneer is part of Alcoa’s global Building and Construction Systems (BCS) business unit. Alcoa BCS manufactures and markets architectural systems and products in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Alcoa is the world’s leading producer and manager of primary aluminum, fabricated aluminum, and alumina facilities, and is active in all major aspects of the industry. For more information on Kawneer or its products, please visit

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