Sierra Grande PK-12 Wins Multiple AIA Colorado Awards

Sierra Grande PK-12 Wins Multiple AIA Colorado Awards

Sierra Grande PK-12’s commitment to implementing regenerative design, promoting wellness and physical activity, and fostering equity and inclusion has won the school two AIA Colorado awards: the Design Award of Excellence and the Sustainability Recognition Award. 

About the Design + Honor Awards

AIA Colorado’s annual Design + Honor Awards recognize Colorado architecture firms, projects, and architects for “outstanding design and exemplary service.” Decided anonymously by a jury of respected designers from across the country, projects are awarded based on how creatively they address client needs through beautiful, sustainable, and equitable design. 

Sierra Grande’s Design Award of Excellence was one of three projects to be awarded, out of 118 submissions. The Sustainability Recognition Award is an optional category awarded at the jury’s discretion. 

“Peers from around the country continue to be amazed at the breadth and depth of design excellence produced by Colorado AIA members,” AIA Colorado CEO Mike Waldinger, Honorary AIA said. “This year we had a tremendous surge in firms nominating and were thrilled to convey sustainability recognition on the most projects ever and at the highest level.”

Learn more about the 2023 winners

“We're a small district but this is the type of facility you'll see in urban areas in some of the most progressive areas in the state and in the country. We won't settle for anything less and will always strive for excellence. And I think that speaks to the heart of our building and what you see here today as well."

Walter Roybal

Sierra Grande School District School Board Member/Parent

Flexible Learning

Located in the heart of a remote, southern Colorado community near beautiful Mount Blanca, the new Sierra Grande PK-12 School is a transformational addition to the Sierra Grande School District, introducing new educational opportunities and healthy, flexible learning environments.

Cuningham’s design team worked closely with the district to optimize the school according to the needs of the students, faculty, and staff. The new school consists of flexible learning spaces that can be reconfigured to accommodate different teaching methods, learning styles, and abilities. 

Student Center
At the heart of the school is a dining commons and large wooden stair that provides additional seating for the cafeteria and supports informal gatherings—all framed against a stunning view north to Mount Blanca.
An innovation lab adjacent to the main entry doors gives students a flexible, multi-use lab space where they can observe learning in real time. The new school also has dedicated art and music rooms, a science suite, a performance stage in the multi-purpose auxiliary gym, a main gym, and a fitness space available to the community.

The Passive House Solution 

As the first known school in Colorado to be designed with Passive House principles—an alternative approach to meeting aggressive energy performance standards that features a super-insulated building envelope and simplified mechanical systems—Sierra Grande PK-12 School is all-electric with no fossil fuels used on campus. The school’s lowered maintenance costs and needs are a crucial benefit given the school’s remote location.

"Typically, designers approach high-performance buildings with an inherent tendency to make the systems more complicated,” Cuningham Director of Regenerative Design Paul Hutton said. “But when we have a high quality envelope, our mechanical and electrical partners can minimize and simplify the system to keep the building heated, cooled, ventilated, and lighted."

Learn more about how Cuningham created one of the most energy-efficient school’s in Colorado without any significant addition to the budget: Future-Proof Your School with the Passive House Framework.

To learn more about Cuningham's work on Sierra Grande PK-12, connect with Cuningham's Paul Hutton and Kari-elin Mock below

Kari-elin Mock

Author: Kari-elin Mock

Posted In: Awards