Norwich University’s Design+Build Collaborative earned praise from the American Institute of Architects, Vermont Chapter (AIAVT) with a Citation Award in the Education category for a project led by Architecture Professor Tolya Stonorov in which she and her students partnered with Montpelier’s Union Elementary School (UES) and the community to design and build an outdoor classroom/playhouse called NEST as part of the school’s playground renovations.
“The process of engagement between architecture students and the community, especially with children, is commendable as a means of teaching collaboration and engagement in design. The combination of inclusive dialogue and exploration to create a shared community asset is inspiring,” according to jury comments provided by AIAVT.
Stonorov and her students worked closely with a UES volunteer committee comprised of parents, teachers, administrators and community members as well as the students of Union Elementary School to define the project and how it serves the needs of the larger playground.
The NEST playhouse is ADA accessible, with wood features made from local hemlock and local white cedar sourced from Fontaine Mills in East Montpelier and Goodridge Lumber in Albany, Vt., and sealed with Vermont Natural Coatings, located in Hardwick, Vt. Every material is chosen with the utmost care with an eye toward local, sustainable and green technology, as well as durability.
This project was made possible by the many partners who donated and discounted their materials/labor: DeWolfe Engineering Associates, of Montpelier, Vt.; DMS Machining and Fabrication, of Barre, Vt.; RK Miles, of Morrisville, Vt., Big Heel Fasteners, of Kansas; InCord, of Connecticut; and Bellavance Trucking, of Barre, Vt.