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Award Programs > LEsolutions Planning and Design Awards

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The Association recognizes projects within the following categories:

These awards recognize learning environments that positively impact teaching and learning and are a result of a sound planning process. They are specific to the identified characteristic. The projects serve the educational program and needs and expectations of the community.

  • James D. MacConnell
    This award is the most prestigious of all the Association's Awards and is bestowed upon a project that truly engages the stakeholders in all phases of the project while enhancing understanding of the interconnections of environment, learning, and teaching. The results of the exceptional planning process are seen in the creation of built environments, the ways that teachers and learners interact because of designed spaces, and the overall attitudes and achievements of the learners. It addresses all components of the criteria in an exceptional manner.

    • James D MacConnell Award – This would be awarded to the most distinctive submission. 1 winner
    • James D MacConnell Finalist – This is considered an award of very honored distinction. Three to five projects should be named finalists and vetted to determine the MacConnell winner from the pool of submissions.

  • Project of Distinction –These awards recognize projects that positively impact the learning in a community that were not MacConnell finalists but are deserving of recognition.
  • New Learning Environment – Innovative interior learning environments that address and support teaching and learning.
  • Post-Secondary Educational Environment – Innovative learning environments for post-secondary education.
  • Renovation/Major Addition – This recognizes a renovation and/or addition project that transforms a physical space from a previous era of educational delivery to a learning environment for current instruction.
  • Small/Special Project Category – This is awarded to a specialized space such as: outdoor space, kitchen, addition, media center, gymnasium, community room, etc.
  • Exceptional Planning Recognition – This award recognizes a comprehensive and intensive planning process that doesn't necessarily result in an exceptional design solution.
  • Jury's Award – Given at the discretion of the jury for some outstanding and compelling component of the project.


The following criteria have been developed for all categories and are weighted evenly for all of the Association's planning and design awards.

  • The overall success of the planning process. The application fully demonstrates the value, results, and positive impact of a comprehensive planning process that engages all stakeholders and address the educational goals and community values.

  • The planning process engages the community in which it serves. The Community is defined within geographic, social, educational, and/or other relevant contexts and the planning addresses the multiple communities. Topics/Areas to address:

    • Assets available within the community
    • Community use/joint-use/partnerships
    • Avenue to economic development/community redevelopment
    • Reflects the unique needs of the community and local workforce
    • Celebrates the unique attributes of the community
    • Serves as a center of the community
    • Connects students to their community.

  • Pre-design planning is comprehensive. Evidence of in-depth conversations, discussion, and/or planning about the educational vision and program prior to the physical design discussions. Please include and/or address the visioning process, the educational specifications, design guidelines, program of requirements, etc.

  • The planning process achieved the goals and vision for the project, district, and community. Identify the goals and demonstrate achievement and results of the planning throughout the process.

  • The planning process and learning environment have impacted and elevated teaching and learning. Demonstrate and provide evidence of the value of the process, which can be done through, testimonial, research, test scores and attendance records, etc.

  • The learning environment is flexible and adaptable to multiple teaching/learning models. Describe how the learning environment:

    • Reflects and responds to the desired learning program
    • Supports a variety of Learning styles and methods for delivering instruction
    • Supports a "Learning anytime, anywhere" philosophy
    • Enables all Learners to be successful
    • Supports future changes in Educational delivery systems.

  • Site development is integral to the vision and goals of the community. Please include a site plan.

  • The project models sustainability in its physical form (components, systems, attributes) and its educational program.