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Editor's Focus: Inspiring Designs

Nov. 1, 2013
Designing facilities that are intended to inspire students, staff and the community.

It’s often easy to distinguish between buildings that were constructed quickly and with a cookie-cutter approach, and those facilities that were intended to inspire. This issue is determined to inspire readers with more than 150 school designs from across the country.

The first design showcased in the issue was inspired by someone who could be considered an American hero, a woman who was deaf and blind before the age of 2, yet went on to greatness as an author, lecturer and political activist: Helen Keller.

 The jury awarded the William W. Caudill Citation—named for the Houston architect, educator and author—to Helen Keller Elementary School in Kirkland, Wash. The school displays its inspiration through tactile artwork, sign language graphics and oversized Braille dots, as well as inspirational quotes from Keller herself that are displayed throughout the school’s learning comunities. Architect for the project was BLRB Architects.  

This year’s Louis I. Kahn Citation—named for the acclaimed American architect whose works were innovative and technical—was awarded to New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. The jury recognized LTL Architects for the renovation of the university’s East Building. 

This design was inspired by the way today’s students learn, maximizing the possible exchanges among students, faculty and staff. The core areas have been developed as architecturally recognizable areas that encourage gathering and collaboration. This design relates to the university’s mission: to create synergies and connect fields of study to create new research, scholarship, models for change and works of art. Faculty work to build communities beyond the classroom, and this design inspires those relationships. 

When was the last time you were truly inspired by something? As you consider new construction and renovation projects on your campus, we hope this issue will help create inspired designs. 

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