LPA Earns Top National School Design Honor for Third Consecutive Year

Design of the TIDE Academy, a three-story, STEAM-focused public high school in Menlo Park, California, is honored with the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education’s Award of Excellence

IRVINE, CALIF. – May 17, 2022 – The American Institute of Architects' (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) has honored LPA Design Studios with an Award of Excellence for the design of the TIDE Academy, a public high school in Menlo Park, Calif. focused on supporting new ways of teaching STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics).

The CAE award is considered the top honor in the country for education facility, designed to recognize “state-of-the-art learning environments” that “inspire learners, educators, administrators, and campus communities.” This year seven projects in the country were recognized with Awards of Excellence.

LPA is the only firm in the country to have earned the honor three years in a row.

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“We are thrilled to be recognized again for our work with educators and communities,” said LPA Director of K-12 Kate Mraw. “TIDE illustrates the ability of a collaborative, informed design process to develop campuses that support different forms of learning and the health and wellness of learners.”

Located on a two-acre site in a rapidly changing industrial area, the TIDE campus — the acronym stands for technology, innovation, design and engineering — promotes student choice, critical thinking and inquiry-based learning, as well as the interdisciplinary instruction necessary to support STEAM curriculums.

The design rethinks traditional school planning with larger classrooms, direct links to outdoor spaces and a variety of collaboration spaces. “Think tanks” and learning studios are designed to support three types of learning: collaboration, contemplation and concentration.

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“The building is a statement, and its bold notion of programming provides students with a variety of unique spaces,” the jury commented. “It takes advantage of the climate and utilizes the outdoor spaces as learning environments.”

The three-story campus forms a protective “U” around a terraced central courtyard, connected by a grand staircase. The design also supports the school’s efforts to attract partnerships with the area’s high-tech companies and foster direct connections with the neighborhood and local universities. The campus connects to the sidewalk and street, putting education on display and tying the school to the neighborhood.

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“No space is wasted on the site,” says LPA Design Director Helen Pierce. “The campus supports the community, different learning behaviors and the concept that learning happens everywhere.”

The project was designed through LPA’s informed design process, including the firm’s structural engineers, civil engineers and landscape architects, who helped design active outdoor learning environments throughout the campus. Most circulation on the terraced campus is exterior, promoting healthy activity, connections to outdoor activity and student engagement.

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“We were able to work with TIDE educators to develop outdoor spaces that support their learning strategies,” said LPA Director of Landscape Architecture Kari Kikuta. “At the same time, we wanted to infuse physical activity into their curriculum on campus.”

LPA earned the CAE award in 2020 for the expansion of expansion of Tarbut v’Torah, an independent K-12 school in Irvine, Calif., and again in 2021 for the Environmental Nature Center and Preschool in Newport Beach, Calif. Each of LPA’s award winners were designed around the AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence, a set of 10 principles focused on developing more equitable, resilient, and healthy projects.

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Environmental sensitivity and sustainability are built into every aspect of the TIDE campus. There is no student parking for cars; students are encouraged to walk, bike or use public transportation. Energy use was reduced by 67 percent from the industry baseline, entirely through passive design strategies. All of the regularly occupied spaces on campus have access to daylight and views. A mesh scrim surrounds large sections of glass, filtering direct sunlight and reducing the heat gain on the buildings.

Founded in 1965, LPA specializes in creating innovative environments that work better, do more with less and change people’s lives. An integrated national design firm with six studios in California and Texas, LPA’s team includes more than 400 in-house architects, master planners, engineers, interior designers, landscape architects and research analysts, working across a wide array of sectors. LPA was honored in 2021 with the AIA California’s Firm Award, the industry’s top honor in the state. For more information, visit lpadesignstudios.com.