Photo by Benjamin Drummond
The ‘Galaxy’ building at Little Star School in Winthrop has won a National Architecture Award for its ‘well-integrated’ design.

Prentiss+Balance+Wickline Architects has won a 2022 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Educational Facility Design Award for their work on Little Star School’s “Galaxy” building.

Completed in 2018, Winthrop’s new building and playground doubled the school’s size and ability to serve the Methow Valley community in infant and toddler care, including its facilities on the campus of TwispWorks, the Little Star South Collaborative.

According to a press release from Prentiss + Balance + Wickline, the Galaxy Building design team was inspired by the late Rayma Hayes, founder of Little Star and longtime guiding force. The school was founded in 1982, based on the Montessori philosophy.

“Most of the buildings are adult scale and children have to adjust to it,” said lead architect Margo Peterson-Aspholm. “We thought Rayma would enjoy adapting the building to children and making adults adapt. Thus, we lowered and reduced the size of the windows and created various nooks and reduced arrangements. There was some doubt, especially when the building was being framed, about the wisdom of this idea, but I’ve since heard that everyone – adult or child – loves the playfulness of it.

The facility includes three classrooms, administrative offices and an activity room, the press release notes. “Indoor spaces are filled with light and have strong visual and physical connections to the outdoors. Active and quiet play areas are set up so that children of different ages can observe and learn from each other. The activity room opens directly onto a large grassy oval, where the whole school can congregate, allowing children to feel the value of community,” the statement read.

Jeff Brown of AJ Brown and Company Construction was Little Star’s general contractor. “Jeff and his team were so dedicated and enthusiastic and did a great job on a short timeframe and tight budget,” Peterson-Aspholm said.

Community members rallied to donate to the school’s fundraising campaign, the press release said. “Many local merchants and suppliers have also partially donated their services and materials,” the statement said. “An incredible Little Star team, including outgoing Principal Dani Reynaud and Little Star Board Member and parent Eric Godwin, worked tirelessly with the architect and builder to make decisions, solve problems and finding compromises Local engineer Jennifer Argraves provided the civil engineering.

Despite an extremely tight budget, many of the project’s sustainability goals were met, according to the statement. They include an improved thermal envelope, efficient air-to-air heat pumps, high-quality insulated windows, careful placement of shading and operable windows for passive cooling, extensive interior daytime lighting and recuperation. of daylight. Solar panels have been approved by the City of Winthrop to be installed on the roof of the building and will bring the building to net zero energy consumption.

The AIA’s judging panel for the Education Facility Design Awards noted that Little Star “is well integrated into the site and blends into the surrounding architectural context while being environmentally friendly.” It is a simple building very well done.

The award will be presented at the AIA 2022 convention in Chicago in June and published on the AIA website and in its magazine.