The Frick Environmental Center (FEC), designed by architecture firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, has received a 2018 Education Facility Design Award of Excellence. Sponsored by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Committee on Architecture for Education, this national honor recognizes state-of-the-art learning environments, ranging from early childhood and K-12 schools to technical colleges, museums, and nature centers.
Completed in 2016, the FEC acts as a gateway to Pittsburgh’s historic Frick Park. The 15,600-square-foot building serves as a base for Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy’s educational programs, which provides the public with nature-related learning and outdoor exploration throughout the park’s 644-acres. The project serves as a ‘living classroom,’ providing families, students and learners of all ages with hands-on experimental environmental education.
“We are thrilled to be a recipient of this prestigious award. The Frick Environmental Center is a vibrant, welcoming facility that educates and impacts on many levels,” said Camila Rivera-Tinsley, Director of Education for Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy.
The FEC is certified LEED Platinum and recognized by the Green Building Alliance for its role in a decade-long vision of incorporating the world’s highest sustainability standards into a free-admission, municipally-owned building. The center is also working toward Living Building Challenge certification, widely recognized as the world’s most rigorous proven performance standard for buildings.
“The Center’s pursuit of Living Building Challenge has reinforced the philosophy within our practice that sustainable design is not only the right thing to do ethically, but also an opportunity to make a richer and more evocative architecture,” remarked Patricia Culley, Senior Associate and Project Architect for the FEC.
Bohlin Cywinski Jackson collaborated with construction manager PJ Dick and the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy to design the Center. The building uses 40-percent less energy than comparable benchmarks, and the energy used is offset entirely via solar and geothermal capture. The building is also designed for net-zero water use, with rainwater harvested for non-potable use and wastewater processing taking place on site.
The Education Facility Design Awards provides an opportunity to engage in critical evaluation and experimentation in the context of clients and their needs. Awards are given to projects that represent exemplary practice in the following areas of educational facility design: enhancement of educational programming; integration of functional needs and aesthetic considerations while respecting the surrounding community and context; the planning and design process; showing an understanding of the connection between the built and natural environment; and demonstrating an integrated and holistic approach to sustainability.
This year’s award recipients were recognized at the 2018 AIA Committee on Architecture for Education Spring Conference in Baltimore, on April 13.