SHP Named James D. MacConnell Award Finalist for Design of Winton Woods Campuses

The SHP-designed campuses of Winton Woods City School District in Cincinnati, Ohio have been announced as one of only four worldwide finalists for the James D. MacConnell Award—widely considered the most prestigious award for school planning and design.

Administered by the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), the MacConnell Award recognizes excellence in educational facility planning and is bestowed upon a project that employs a detailed planning process that deliberately engages all voices and perspectives while exploring the intersections of environment, learning and teaching.

“The SHP team is thrilled and humbled to be in the running for the MacConnell Award, which is one of the most coveted honors in the industry. This recognition doesn’t belong to just our team, though. The years-long collaborative process of stakeholder engagement, educational visioning and iterative planning made it possible for us to deliver two beautiful, innovative campuses that support a student-centric culture and uniquely meet the needs of the curriculum and community.”
– Jeffrey Sackenheim, Vice President, SHP

Winton Woods—a culturally inclusive, open enrollment district serving approximately 4,000 students—transformed its pedagogical approach and moved to a project-based learning (PBL) curriculum in 2011. However, the 1960s-era building conditions made it challenging to implement a PBL curriculum. Winton Woods retained nationally recognized architecture, engineering & design firm SHP to guide the district through community engagement, educational visioning and the architectural design process.

Over four years, SHP engaged all voices and perspectives (more than 1,000 stakeholders over 150+ meetings) to develop the best solution for students, teachers, the district and the community: consolidating six buildings into two campuses. The North Campus (a 248,000sf building serving 1,600 students in grades 7-12) opened in March 2021; the South Campus (a 206,000sf building designed to serve up to 1,900 in grades 1-6) opened the following August.

Both campuses deliver personalized, unique learning environments to meet the district’s project-based learning model. Each school features 12 small learning communities (SLCs) of roughly 150 students; each SLC is comprised of dedicated spaces for traditional, collaborative, interdisciplinary, presentation and hands-on learning, all wrapped around a central collaboration zone. Instead of assigned rooms, teachers can check them out based on instructional needs. Meanwhile, an innovative distributed dining system takes advantage of the square footage typically assigned to a cafeteria to support learning more directly and easily.

“Winton Woods is a testament to how transformative educational facilities can be when they prioritize and value the students they serve. And that’s the bottom line: our young people are worth it. The dream, the vision and the effort to deliver this unbelievable learning space gives me goosebumps, and it’s thrilling to now have all that hard work recognized within such a prestigious award program.”
– Eric Martin, Principal, Winton Woods High School
“The Winton Woods project is impressive for so many reasons—including the extensive planning process and the thoughtful, innovative approach SHP took designing each campus—but mostly for how the new buildings foster a supportive community for the students and advance the district’s commitment to project-based learning. The results are nothing less than exceptional.”
– Ryan Meeds, Project Manager , Ohio Facilities Construction Commission

The winner of the MacConnell Award will be named on Oct. 15 in Chicago as part of A4LE’s annual Association for Learning Environments LearningSCAPES conference.