Four K-12 Schools Designed by LPA Inc. Honored with CASH/AIACC Awards

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The projects were recognized for their student-centered, integrated design approach.

LPA Inc. honored for educational design of four K-12 schools.

The 7.1-acre Samueli Academy campus features a student union, gymnasium and specialized learning studios.

The awards are a particular honor because we’re celebrating 20 years since our first CASH/AIACC award...

The Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) and the American Institute of Architects California Council (AIACC) recently honored four K-12 school projects designed by LPA Inc.: The Samueli Academy in Santa Ana, California; Johnson Middle School in Westminster, California; Eastvale STEM Academy in Corona, California; and a master plan for Galt Joint Union Elementary School District.

“The awards are a particular honor because we’re celebrating 20 years since our first CASH/AIACC award for Mendez Intermediate School,” explains Jim Kisel, AIA/LEED AP and Principal at LPA. “The CASH/AIACC awards are extra special because projects are not only judged on design, but on how well they facilitate and implement the client's educational vision. That’s what we do—we enrich lives with the spaces we create.”

Samueli Academy has the distinction of receiving an Award of Merit in the Specialized Facility. The academy is a 480-student charter high school and a program of Orangewood Foundation offering local foster and community youth a new choice for their high school education.

The first phase includes a three-story, 30,000-square-foot building features innovative learning spaces that support the engineering and design pathways in their STEM-focused, project-based curriculum. Each floor of the new building features a STEM lab and four learning studios that share a collaborative learning commons. The project is tracking a LEED for Schools certification. Juror’s said that this project reflects the “strong vision” of the client foundation and noted that the first stage of the project has been particularly well executed. All jurors said they look forward to seeing the completion of this project.

Next, the Johnson Middle School Campus Transformation has the distinction of receiving an Award of Excellence in the Modernization/New Built category. Westminster Unified School District embraced a philosophy of healthy and nurturing learning environments, which is emphasized in both the buildings and the site development of the Johnson Middle School campus.

To address the curricular needs identified in the master plan, and to effectively utilize the space within the existing campuses, a new two-story science and technology building, a new gymnasium/multipurpose room and the renovation of an existing building into a new resource center and media library was built. The campus is tracking a LEED for Schools Silver certification. Jurors noted that this project includes both new built and modernization components and were impressed by “…the design’s flexible spaces that support multiple instructional methodologies.” Jurors also appreciated that there was a strong planning process that included many community stakeholders and integration of sustainability features.

Eastvale STEM Academy has the distinction of receiving an Award of Merit in the Project in Design category. The educational design for Eastvale STEM Academy’s responds appropriately to sun, wind and surrounding context. The project's exposed building systems and demonstration stormwater treatment features reinforce the "learning happens everywhere" concept developed by the design team. The eSTEM Academy will be a CHPS Designed project designed to exceed California Title-24 2013 standards by 25 percent.

Learning studios are flexible as possible to allow for multiple teaching modalities and the ability to evolve with future unknowns. The combination of numerous, dispersed, and varied learning spaces of all kinds—coupled with visibility and access—encourages learning and collaboration to happen everywhere. Jurors said that this project, “Explores new ways to use space to support a diversity of learning opportunities,” and that its spaces, “…promote investigation and higher levels of thinking.” Jurors also mentioned how, “Interior learning spaces spill out and connect to outdoor learning spaces.”

Finally, the facilities master plan for Galt Joint Union Elementary School District (GJUESD) has the distinction of receiving an Award of Merit in the Master Planning category. Every GJUESD school is highly student-centered.

LPA is working with GJUESD to provide a comprehensive facilities master plan. Their role is to collaborate with district and community stakeholders to envision the future facilities' and furniture systems' needs in support of the district’s educational program initiatives. Through an inclusive outreach process—including district, school site and community stakeholders—long-term program goals were created to address the district’s blended learning delivery. The master plan addresses these educational needs, while accounting for future flexibility in the years to come. Jurors said that, “This project’s educational program focuses on the needs of individual students,” and stated how this project’s presentation focused on the “big ideas” to create “learning-centered” facilities.

Kisel summarizes, “To have received four awards this year is an unprecedented honor. We’re grateful to the CASH organization, jurors, our designers, colleagues and clients for believing in our integrated design process.”

About LPA
Founded in 1965, LPA has more than 300 employees with offices in San Antonio and Irvine, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose, California. The firm provides services in architecture, sustainability, planning, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering and graphics. With a proven commitment to integrated sustainable design, LPA designs facilities that span from K-12 schools and higher education to corporate and civic establishments. More than 600 major design awards attest to LPA’s commitment to design excellence. For more information, visit


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Courtney Tarnow
LPA Inc.
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LPA Inc.
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