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American School & University: Outstanding Design


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American School & University: Outstanding Design


2016 Award for Outstanding Design      -American School & University


"Constructing a 301,000-square-foot new senior high school was the first phase of the Penn Hills School District’s consolidation of its students into three buildings and three sites. Demolishing the existing elementary school and constructing a new 194,000-square-foot elementary school on the same site was the second phase of the consolidation.  The new building was designed for a capacity of 2,200 students in grades pre-K to 4. The design organizes the building into grade-level groupings; this accommodates all of the district’s elementary school students in one building and provides a sense of community by clustering classrooms within the same grade.  Each grade level is housed in its own “wing” that connects to a central core containing common areas and support spaces. The elementary building design is coordinated with the high school design and shows similar elements in materials, colors, and textures. The elementary school also contains LEED design elements.  The soil conditions at the site required geotechnical expertise. The foundation system at the front of the building consisted of a slab-on-grade floor with conventional spread footings. The rear portion used a structural floor slab supported by grade beams and micro-piles.  The building includes classrooms for pre-K to 4 and special education, a media center, a multipurpose room, a cafeteria, a full-service kitchen, a stage that connects the multipurpose room and cafeteria, computer labs, art rooms, music rooms, faculty rooms, storage for each grade, a mechanical room, and a loading dock."

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2015 Award for Outstanding Design      -American School & University


"The new Penn Hills Senior High School is designed to fit on the existing 56-acre high school campus. After the new building was completed and occupied, the former high school was demolished for new parking and athletic fields.  The design process began with a thorough programming phase that resulted in community consensus for an efficient building that created an enhanced learning environment.  The Senior High School was designed for “21st-century learning” and includes technology-integrated academic departmental instructional areas. The design segregates the academic wings from the large assembly areas, enabling secure use of the building for community activities and special events after regular school hours. These areas include an auditorium, a three-court gymnasium, an auxiliary gym and a food court/cafeteria.  The design concept of the new Senior High School emphasized the district’s mascot Native American influence in art and respect for nature.  The principles of “biomimicry” were utilized. This concept is characterized as innovation inspired by nature to create an efficient, sustainable, and healthful environment. Accordingly, the building is organized with the symmetry of a living organism. The mechanical systems are situated internally within the “torso” or “heart” of the building. Many principlesof green design were incorporated, including an ice storage system for cooling that reduces general operating costs and conserves the consumption of natural resources.  A goal for the project was that the building be an educational “beacon on the hill.” The design’s geometry and materials display some of the characteristics of Native American values, including power, strength and artfulness. The geometry of the classroom wing reflects the spread wings of an eagle. The entrance canopy features an arrowhead shape supported by a totem pole."