By Mrs. Jennifer Aldridge (USACE)June 17, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany - Kaiserslautern High School will soon have a new home. A modern, 21st-century educational facility is being designed to replace the current school, housed in a converted World War II-era hospital building.
Last month, SchenkelShultz Architecture, the firm hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Department of Defense Education Activity to develop a design concept for the new school, won a prestigious LEARNING BY DESIGN Citation of Excellence for the KHS project in Vogelweh, Germany.
Each year SchenkelShultz submits project entries to LEARNING BY DESIGN, but 2005 was the last time the firm won an award of this caliber, said Daniel Tarczynski, a SchenkelShultz partner.
"For us, in our firm, this was major. My colleague, Bridget Paterno, who submits all the award entries, left me a message and asked me to call her back," Tarczynski said. "I didn't, so she called me again. When I answered, I said, 'Yes, yes Bridget, I know we won an award.' She said, 'No, we didn't just win another award from LEARNING BY DESIGN, we won THE award.'
"This was a great accomplishment for the design team -- providing a school of this quality to students of U.S. military families," Tarczynski said.
When the team met internally to rank and submit its award entries they had an inclination the Kaiserslautern project would win, said Brook Sherrard, a SchenkelShultz associate principal.
"It encapsulates 21st -century design," Sherrard said. "The more you are challenged as a designer, the more you push yourself. We had a great time designing this school and we had all the right people on it."
21st-century learning facilities, as defined by DoDEA, are collaborative, flexible and dynamic. DoDEA's new 21st-century schools will support student-centered learning and provide continuity to military children worldwide, according to the agency's website.
Upon completion, Kaiserslautern High School will bring 21st-century design principles to life. The building itself will serve as a teaching tool. Learning cues have been designed and incorporated throughout KHS. One of the cues, for example, is a "living wall," Tarczynski said.
"We have a wall with growing plants and exposed water filtration from rainwater collected on the roof," he said. "The plants then purify the air. The glass [surrounding the plants] is also a writable surface."
In addition to the living wall, liquid-crystal display screens will show students how much power they draw from photovoltaic panels and wind turbines on campus, an organic school garden will be planted and Green Revolution stationary bikes will convert human effort into usable energy, explained Johnnie Lohrum, a SchenkelShultz associate principal.
"This is cutting-edge 21st century," Lohrum said.
Undoubtedly, the award-winning school design required the input of many key stakeholders. The project delivery team included a laundry list of organizations - DoDEA headquarters, Department of Defense Dependents Schools-Europe, USACE Europe and Norfolk Districts, German construction agencies, SchenkelShultz, Dorsch Gruppe, the Kaiserslautern garrison and Kaiserslautern High School. It was a large but productive team, said Tammy Cinnamon, the USACE Europe District project manager.
"Even our internal team partnered to make sure we met the intent of 21st century," Cinnamon said. "It was a really good collaborative effort."
The team, especially the U.S. and German architects, came together on this project immediately, said Lawrence Hoskin, the DoDDS-Europe military construction program manager.
"If you don't have a team pulling together with free flow of ideas, I don't see how you could win the award SchenkelShultz won," Hoskin said.
Experience also aided in the team's award citation. Many of the PDT members, including SchenkelShultz, worked together designing two Spangdahlem Air Base schools before moving on to Kaiserslautern.
SchenkelShultz was hired into the DoDEA vision and everyone was on board; the oars were all going in the right direction, Sherrard said.
"There was amazing synergy. Very rarely do we get clients who say go ahead and push the boundaries," Sherrard said. "That was the opportunity we got on this project."
Kaiserslautern High School is one of six DoDDS-Europe 21st -century facilities currently in design under Europe District's military construction program. In the near future, five additional Kaiserslautern military community schools will begin design, bringing the total to 11. The district is responsible for the delivery of these schools in Germany and Belgium, representing a population of more than 20,000 students.
Although the majority of KHS students will graduate long before the new facility is scheduled to open its doors, their legacy will live on. During the design phase, SchenkelShultz conducted a brainstorming session with students and staff to find out what they liked about their school and what needed improvement. The students had great input and many of their ideas were incorporated into the design, Hoskin said.
"Their participation in the design will provide an excellent 21st-century school for future students," he said.
From the moment Kaiserslautern students step off their bus, they will be learning. A "history walk" will introduce them to the story of their school, their base and the U.S. Army in Europe. The front of KHS will be lined with pavers mapping out Germany and highlighting the locations of past and present U.S. installations. Hopefully this will help build school pride from the outside in, Lohrum said.
"Giving them a piece of home, I feel like I am giving back to the military that gives us so much freedom."
***Editor's Note: LEARNING BY DESIGN will honor the Kaiserslautern High School project with a Citation of Excellence Award in the October edition of its publication. This citation is one of only three presented by LBD with support from the American Institute of Architects, APPA-Leadership in Educational Facilities, Council of Educational Facility Planners International, the National School Boards Association and the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities.