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D.C. charter school wins AIA design award

The Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School is a sustainable development that allows expeditionary learning

Washington, D.C.’s first ever green-focused charter school, the Mundo Verde Bilingual Public Charter School, has won a 2016 Education Facility Design Award of Excellence from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The AIA Committee on Architecture for Education recently selected 12 projects across the world that serve as an example of "a superb place in which to learn, furthering the client's mission, goals and educational program while demonstrating excellence in architectural design."

Located at 30 P Street NW, the charter school teaches students from Pre-K-3 through fourth grade. According to the school’s website, the school will eventually add an additional grade each year through 5th grade.

Washington, D.C.-based Studio Twenty Seven Architecture renovated the 1920s-era school building after being awarded the site in 2013. The architecture firm constructed an in-house cistern, steambed, solar panels, and expanded composting system. There is also a third-floor "learning terrace" and outdoor courtyard.

Previously, the school served as the John F. Cooke School, named after a pre-Civil War educator and the city’s first black Presbyterian minister. The school was built by local architect Albert L. Harris, who is also known for constructing the Bernard T. Janney School and Georgetown Washington University’s Corcoran Hall.

The Washington, D.C. school’s curriculum is based on "expeditionary learning," where students learn by engaging in cumulative products, presentations, and portfolios. Here, students learn through self-discovery, collaboration, and competition.

On why the D.C. charter school won an award, the jury comments can be found below:

"The site planning enables the contemporary building to be different from the historical building yet connected to it, while still respecting the historical building. The combination of historical and contemporary buildings is a rich experience for children. The design team’s process for engaging the community in the design will ensure the project’s long-term success. Several features reflect a thoughtful and holistic sustainability strategy within a modest budget."

Other projects that won a 2016 Education Facility Design Award of Excellence include Baltimore’s Henderson-Hopkins School; Raleigh, North Carolina’s Wake Technical Community College at the Regional Plant 2 Teaching Facility; Canada’s Richard Ivey Building at Western University; Greensburg, Pennsylvania’s Seton Hill Arts Center at Seton Hill University; and Fayetteville, Arizona’s Steven L. Anderson Design Center at the University of Arkansas.

The jury for this year’s 2016 Education Facility Design Awards was composed of Karina Ruiz from DOWA-IBI Group Architects, Helena L. Jubany from NAC/Architecture, Steve Ziger from Ziger/Snead Architects, Cristina C. Alvarez from Delaware Design Lab High School, Bruce Lindsey from Washington University in St. Louis, and Zachary Neubauer from the University of Portland.