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Photo Essay

Architectural award goes to Arkansas school for collegiate feel

Fayetteville High School in Arkansas placed key offices and theater around entrance
  • Dazzle with Design—Fayetteville High School in Arkansas earned an award from the American Institute of Architects for its stunning and useful windows, stairwells, environmental efficiencies and security features. This student assembly area connects three levels of classrooms.
  • Students walk down stairs near the east entry to Green Street between the southern and northern buildings of the high school.
  • A view from the north courtyard looking south toward the media center, which connects renovated classrooms on the east and west sides.
  • The performing arts theater is wrapped in cherry veneer panels that optimize acoustic performance of the space.

An $84 million renovation that includes a pedestrian walkway and greater security at Fayetteville High School in Arkansas is one of many projects recognized by the American Institute of Architects.

Three architectural firms—Hight Jackson Associates, DLR Group and Marlon Blackwell Architects—gave the school’s multiple buildings a unified design that better facilitates pedestrian flow while also improving security and environmental efficiencies.

For that, Fayetteville High School of Fayetteville Public Schools received a 2016 Education Facility Design Award from the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on Architecture for Education. It was the only public school awarded this year.

The first phase of the 500,000-plus-square-foot renovation integrated central office, cafeteria, performing arts and athletic facilities at the school’s entrance for easier access for the public. A large pedestrian promenade and open-entry courtyard connects to classrooms, science labs and other academic spaces that require additional security.

“The buildings frame the outdoor courtyards, providing an elegant backdrop to the exterior learning environments,” says the Committee on Architecture for Education judges. “The project feels collegiate, which is aspirational for a high school campus.”

It also has digital labs, spaces more suited for smaller classes, and adaptable learning studios that allow for collaborative student projects.

The committee commended the project’s sustainability elements, such as natural light in classrooms and the use of local timber and stone. Other renovated features included the school’s black box theater, multiple band rooms, satellite teleconference areas, animal stables, robotics labs, and its woodworking, metalworking and welding shops.

“The schools that get our recognition,” says John Dale, committee chair, “are the ones where the idea of sustainability is an integral part of their building design and not just an add-on.”