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Virginia middle school design receives national accolades

Building reflects current research in education and adolescent brain science

Stantec Architecture has received national recognition for its design of Frederick County Middle School (FCMS) in Winchester, VA, an education facility that sets a bold new direction for adolescent learners. The 900-student capacity school received a grand prize from Learning by Design, an annual juried awards program featuring the nation’s most engaging and enriching learning environments.

The organization hailed FCMS, which opened in August 2016, as an aspirational yet practical student-centric design that aligns with current research on effective teaching and learning, adolescent brain science, nutrition, health and well-being. The school is located in a rural area of northwestern Virginia.

The building is organized as a trio of three-story learning houses, separated by outdoor learning courts, connected by a Learning Commons and a public wing housing several programs including administration, music, athletics, CTE, performance, and dining.

The learning houses are made up of nine “learning communities” designed to promote a sense of identity while supporting interdisciplinary, collaborative, one-to-one, and self-guided learning. Built-in flexibility allows teachers and students to adapt the learning environment to suit their needs and to transform the facility as the curriculum evolves. For example, grades can be organized by tower or floor, or grade levels can be mixed in a multi-age tower, allowing for flexibility over time.

Recognizing the pull of high energy, see-and-be-seen venues for middle schoolers, the design team looked to retail spaces for inspiration when designing the Learning Commons. The result? A dramatic, double-height space that connects the entire school. Inside, the media center, gym, and dining area act as anchor stores, while specialized rooms for music, robotics, agri-science, fitness, etc., serve as storefronts.

Transparency into these spaces puts learning on display, sparking curiosity and enticing students to explore their passions. A robust environmental graphics package promotes wayfinding and provides valuable information that supports the curriculum and leverages the building as a teaching tool.

Located in an under-served rural area, it was critical that the facility function as a 24/7 community asset. Programs shared with an adjacent elementary school and the larger community, include a community meeting room, an astronomy lab, a track, competition play fields, a field house, outdoor play-courts, walking trails, a competition gym with a fitness loft, and a bus storage and fueling facility.

The building is a safe, healthy learning environment that is durable and cost-effective to operate. Material selections and fresh air promote a healthy indoor environment. Natural daylight and views are provided to 100% of the primary instructional spaces. Efficient systems are designed to use 70% less energy than the average school in the region and a wastewater treatment system allows the facility to manage all its water on site.

Last year, Stantec architects were honored with an Outstanding Project award for Agnor-Hurt Elementary School in Charlottesville, VA. Among that building’s defining characteristics are a multi-age classroom and an International Portal that connects students to global learning opportunities.  The building houses a diverse population of 570 young learners in grades pre-K through five.

Stantec Architecture also received a 2017 Learning by Design Citation of Excellence award for the Robert R. Shaw Center for STEAM in Katy, TX. The project was one of four selected for the Citation of Excellence because it exemplifies contemporary design and architectural standards.  

About Stantec
We're active members of the communities we serve. That's why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind. The Stantec community unites approximately 22,000 employees working in over 400 locations across six continents. Our work—engineering, architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, surveying, environmental sciences, project management, and project economics, from initial project concept and planning through design, construction, and commissioning—begins at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. With a long-term commitment to the people and places we serve, Stantec has the unique ability to connect to projects on a personal level and advance the quality of life in communities across the globe. Stantec trades on the TSX and the NYSE under the symbol STN. 

Media Contact
Marti Mueller
Stantec Media Relations
(585) 319-3052 (o)
(585) 355-9107 (c)
marti.mueller@stantec.com

Located in an under-served rural area, it was critical that the facility function as a 24/7 community asset

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