Kansas City, Mo. – Hollis + Miller Architects is proud to announce its Learnscape outdoor learning environment at Sunflower Elementary was selected for the 2020 National AIA Emerging Professionals Exhibit.
The Emerging Professionals Exhibit is an annual digital exhibit celebrating the most creative plans, projects, art and design from the rising architecture and design generation. This year’s theme was “Environmental Excellence,” focusing on how design can bring social, economic and ecological value to the built environment. The firm’s 2018 Learnscape project at Sunflower Elementary was selected for encouraging exploration, fostering environmentally minded students, and promoting an environmentally conscious community.
“We believe in utilizing the strengths and expertise of all design team members – including our emerging professionals and our educational partners – to impact design,” said Partner Scott Barton. “Learning happens everywhere, and we believe in designing the future of education beyond the traditional classroom. Learnscape is a testament to the power of our co-creation process, and it’s an honor to be selected.”
As a long-time partner of the Shawnee Mission School District in Johnson County, Kansas, Hollis + Miller donated the design and construction of the firm’s annual Learnscape – an outdoor classroom – to Sunflower Elementary, which serves more than 500 students from kindergarten through sixth grade. The firm invited students from all grade levels to discuss sustainability priorities, bringing fresh perspectives and encouraging young learners to explore the architecture field. Together the group chose water, ecology and air quality, and students were immersed in learning about all three aspects and how they affect the Earth.
By leading design charrettes and managing the planning for build day, Hollis + Miller’s emerging professionals were able to own the project and take it through all phases of design and construction.
“Sustainability was at the forefront of our minds throughout the entire design process, and I think this will help students realize what they are learning in school can impact everything they do outside of school,” said Alison Luzenske, an interior designer at the firm who contributed to the project as an emerging professional before joining the firm as a full-time team member.
The outdoor classroom blurs the lines between learning and nature to provide a seamless connection between students and the natural environment. Students can study water conservation benefits by utilizing the on-site cistern as they tend to planter boxes created for each grade level to learn about lifecycles and ecology. The area’s signage doubles as a musical instrument, teaching students about the physics of sound, and a solar panel on the roof of a large, covered deck gives students an up-close connection to alternative energy sources.
“I cannot wait for a future where buildings don’t just take energy, but generate it to share with its communities,” said Lauren Bailey, a designer who also worked on the project as an emerging professional before joining the firm last year. “This is one small yet powerful step towards a beautiful future. I hope this recognition inspires other design entities and communities to give back to those around them and expand their experiences.”
Preserving the natural landscape was important to the design team, and the emerging professionals consulted with experts in the community to select the appropriate foliage. The design also offers an opportunity for local businesses to provide resources to students, sharing their specialties and opening future career paths.
Learn more about Sunflower Elementary’s new outdoor learning environment at hollisandmiller.com.
About Hollis + Miller
Founded in 1950, Hollis + Miller is an integrated architecture firm designing the future of learning environments, including public, private, K-12 and higher education. Learn more at hollisandmiller.com.