Bay Area Education Projects Win Top AIA Awards

LPA-designed K-12 and higher education projects honored for supporting new ways of teaching, building community and supporting educational journeys.

Four LPA education projects earned top awards in the recent AIA Silicon Valley (AIASV) Design Awards.

TIDE Academy
, a unique, STEAM-focused public school in Menlo Park, won an Honor Award, typically given to what the jury considers the “best of the best.” Agnew K-12 Campus, a combined elementary, middle and high school in San Jose, and the interdisciplinary-learning-focused Davis Senior High School STEM Building, received Merit Awards. Davis was the only unbuilt project to win a Merit Award, the highest honor given to an on-the-boards project.

“These honors from our peers reflect LPA’s dedication to working with districts and communities to develop schools that support their goals,” said LPA Design Director Helen Pierce. “Each campus is woven uniquely into the fabric of its community and finds new ways to support students.”

Los Medanos College Student Union & Kinesiology Complex
, which creates a comprehensive, large-scale addition to the community college campus, also won an Honor Award. (LPA earned the only two Honor Awards presented in the Architecture category this year.)

“This project is a great example of working with the college to find ways to combine uses and maximize the value of the available funds,” said LPA Director of Higher Education Steven Flanagan.

A record number of projects were submitted to the AIASV awards this year after a three-year hiatus. LPA submitted four projects and received recognition for all four.

TIDE Academy, Menlo Park, CA

Honor Award: Architecture


The three-story public high school in Menlo Park, California focuses on supporting new ways of teaching STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics). Located on a two-acre site in a light industrial area, the campus promotes student choice, critical thinking and inquiry-based learning.

“TIDE Academy's design supports our focus on career technical education pathways focusing on STEAM fields,” Principal Simone Rick-Kennel said after the school opened. “The innovation lab encourages ideation and creation for cross-curricular projects.” TIDE was honored last year with an American Institute of Architects’ 2023 Architecture Award, the industry’s highest honor for a single project.”

Jury comment: “This project really celebrates everything about its site and its connection to the businesses around it. The industrial aesthetic I love, and it really conveys the sense of workshop and activity and experimentation and progress."

Los Medanos College, Contra Costa Community College District – Student Union & Kinesiology Complex, Pittsburgh, CA

Honor Award: Architecture

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This 67,050-square-foot multipurpose complex creates a comprehensive, large-scale addition to the Los Medanos community college campus. Two buildings and connective landscape quad integrate a new Kinesiology and Athletics Building and Student Campus Center, providing a variety of active and gathering spaces in one area of campus.

The Kinesiology and Athletics Building supports sports teams and physical education programs with new classrooms, fitness studios, weight rooms, locker rooms, training rooms and offices, while the Student Campus Center brings community to the forefront, with a 485-seat conference center, food options, bookstore, and student activity spaces.

Jury comment: “LPA really looked to add further value beyond just the two buildings through the synergies they had with each other… We found it to be a really bold relationship with landscape. It’s a great example of how just really smart site strategy can transform a place.”

Agnew K-12 Campus, San Jose, CA

Merit Award: Architecture

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This K-12 campus seamlessly integrates separate elementary, middle and high schools on a single 55-acre site. The design creates a sense of scale, connection and progression between the separate schools, which share a common architectural language, while maintaining individual identities through color, building massing and landscape.

Proximity and shared-use spaces encourage both staff and student peer mentoring and support a sequenced curriculum and cohesive educational journey. Outdoor environments play a key role. “Our outdoor spaces don't feel like a sea of concrete,” Santa Clara Unified School District Senior Project Manager Rosiella Ileto Defensor recently told LPA’s Catalyst magazine. “Instead, we built something truly unique, inviting and special for the staff and students.”

Jury comment: “The project was really able to play out the transition of children moving from one level to the next. They have common outdoor spaces that link them, so they’ll have those encounters with older and younger kids. And those are all things that are important for children as they develop.”

Davis Senior High School STEM Building

Merit Award: Unbuilt / Research / Competition

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This two-story STEM building supports interdisciplinary learning and collaboration while forming a new “front door” to the campus. A unique, folded roof and façade establish a strong identity for the building. Classrooms on the building perimeter circle a central atrium which serves as a flexible gathering space. The landscape is closely coordinated with the building to provide outdoor learning space.

Jury comment: “There’s something just really clear about this building. It’s a building that surrounds a space, where the high school students can be, with the classrooms, and it creates very real and usable core to the educational experience.”