Texas Steam Center Architect Receives Prestigious Design Award

By SCN Staff

ALLEN, Texas—VLK Architects was recently awarded the Caudill Award for the design of the Allen ISD STEAM Center in Allen, Texas, a city of approximately 85,000, located 23 miles north of Dallas.

The jury noted the design of the Allen STEAM Center stood out due to its “innovation that solved community needs and enrollment growth while looking to the horizon for determining future student interests and skills” and how the “total shift in culture occurred with an explosion of STEAM interest across the district.”

The two-story arc-shaped building was designed with separate high school STEAM and elementary/middle school experience designated entrances with the intention to provide a foundational system promoting curiosity, cultivating future-ready skills, and preparing Allen ISD students for success in STEAM-related areas.

The Caudill Award is the highest honor in the TASA/TASB Exhibit of School Architecture (EoSA) competition. Allen STEAM was also the only project in the EoSA Competition that received all six Stars of Distinction awards.

The STEAM Center offers specialized spaces such as engineering and robotics labs, computer labs, computer maintenance instructional programs, science and physics labs, math classrooms, and studios for the architecture and interior design programs.

Collaboration spaces, common areas, and huddle rooms are situated throughout the facility to provide a range of places for groups to collaborate on projects. Throughout the center, visibility and transparency across disciplines creates an open co-creative atmosphere that provides younger students a window to the advanced upper classes. The design integrates a rich outdoor setting, providing learning trails and ecological zones for exploration.

“The Allen ISD STEAM Center is a unique facility that empowers our students to engage in experiential learning,” said Robyn Bullock, Allen ISD Superintendent, in a statement.

“From the tranquil outdoor trails and pond, the hands-on makerspace labs, and the carefully planned science labs and classrooms, the STEAM Center provides our students the opportunity to engage in future-focused STEAM lessons and activities. We are proud to have partnered with VLK throughout the design process to create our one-of-a-kind facility that is helping build innovative and collaborative skillsets for all students.”

The new STEAM Center supports innovative instruction across the district, offering Kindergarteners to 12th-grade students more than 100,000 square feet of increased exposure to science, technology, engineering, art and math-integrated experiences.

“We are so proud to have received the Caudill Award in recognition of this incredible project,” said Sloan Harris, CEO | Partner of VLK Architects, in a statement.

“Our team’s exploration and research in what this facility could be founded the design that became real innovation in a learning environment, centered around Allen ISD’s bold vision for this one-of-a-kind school. We are grateful for the partnership with Allen ISD and to be a part of this project.”

The Allen STEAM Center also recently received a Merit Award at the 2020 AIAFW Excellence in Architecture.

Cadence McShane Construction of Addison, Texas, was the general contractor on this impressive project.

Student enrollment has more than doubled since 1989 in the Allen Independent School District, which serves than 20,780 in grades K-12. Students attend one of 18 elementary schools, three middle schools, one freshman center, and one high school staffed by 2,660 Allen ISD employees.