HOPEWELL, N.J., Sept. 15, 2006 — After three years of planning with Microsoft and the School District of Philadelphia, The Prisco Group-designed “School of the Future” has won its first international award for an engaging, modern environment on a standard urban public-school budget. The Prisco Group, an architectural and engineering firm in Hopewell, NJ, was awarded the “Recognized Value” award for the “design in progress” as part of DesignShare/School Construction News’ sixth annual awards program, “Models for the 21st Century.”
The school, which opened its doors on September 7, 2006, resides on seven acres in West Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park and is aesthetically pleasing, technologically advanced, environmentally friendly and replicable throughout the world on a traditional budget. The project was identified as having “recognized value” in the ongoing dialogue about the design of more effective learning environments.
The School of the Future is an opportunity to rethink traditional educational facilities to meet the current and future needs of all learners. Integrating technology, curriculum, and sustainable design elements allows learners to use the building and all of its features as “built-in” teaching tools. Through support of The Delaware Valley Green Building Council, the State of Pennsylvania Sustainable Development Fund and the City of Philadelphia Water Department (PWD), many of the high-performance features received grants.
Scott V. Prisco, AIA, NCARB, PP, LEED ap, the Principal of The Prisco Group, stated, “Designing and building an energy-efficient building does not have to be costly. Benefits such as increased durability, less maintenance, and energy savings are a direct result of Sustainable Design.”
The essential element of award-winning school facility design is balance among a school’s educational philosophy, curriculum vision, technology needs and the community. Driven by new educational concepts, the architectural design creates an internal communication core – in a sense a school “street,” with direct access to “adaptive functional modules” designed to be replicated elsewhere. The facility also provides open community access to ground-level modules – the performing arts area, physical education center and interactive learning center.
The building will create a healthy and productive learning environment – while potentially saving the School District of Philadelphia operational dollars – and become a living textbook as students monitor and analyze building systems as part of their learning process.
The School District of Philadelphia, The Philadelphia School Improvement Team and Microsoft team picked The Prisco Group to design the 800-student, 162,000-sq.-ft. school in March 2004. Regarding the selection of The Prisco Group as the designer of The School of the Future, Mary Cullinane wrote in her March 27, 2004 blog entry (http://blogs.msdn.com/phillyhi/archive/2004/03/27/97255.spx), “At the end of the day, I believe passion won.” Ms. Cullinane heads Microsoft’s U.S. Partners in Learning program and is the school’s “technology architect.”
Details of the curriculum and features of the school are available at http://www.thepriscogroup.com and at http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/sotf/default.mspx.