Ludington’s New Elementary School Wins 2023 Building Award from AIA Grand Rapids

K-12 Education

Ludington Area School District’s new elementary school, designed by GMB Architecture + Engineering (GMB), received a 2023 Building Award from the Grand Rapids chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

AIA’s annual Honor awards celebrate excellence in local architecture and architectural design by honoring projects completed, individual architects, students, and community leaders for their contributions to the profession. Founded in 1857, AIA is the preeminent professional organization for architects across the country, working to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities through the creation and promotion of ethical standards and code of conduct for all members.

Ludington Area School District and the surrounding community decided to consolidate the district’s three elementary schools and early childhood center into one new, centralized facility as part of their 2019 bond proposal. The new elementary complements the district’s forward-looking approach to curriculum design, facilities planning, and classroom design. The resulting building delivers spaces that are flexible and transitionally appropriate for each age group, with extended learning areas throughout to provide opportunities for students to find their place and help propel the district in a new direction around collaborative learning.

“The design of Ludington Elementary School was one of those rare feats that meets the needs of everyone,” said Dr. Kyle Corlett, Ludington Area School District Superintendent. “Our students love it, our staff love it, and our parents love it.”

The 155,00-square-foot elementary building establishes a learning ecosystem within the community and breaks down the classroom wings into smaller, grade-level centered neighborhoods that feel more approachable to an elementary-aged student. Recognizing that learning doesn’t happen only in the classroom, Ludington Elementary was designed with outdoor learning areas, dedicated extended learning areas, and niches in the corridors that function as an accommodated learning space. All of the shared amenities and special programs are organized along a center spine that connects all the neighborhoods together, creating a clear wayfinding path and circulation loop around the building.

“Ludington’s elementary students will experience a real transformation in their learning with this new facility, and it was such a rewarding process to work with the district’s team who really went above and beyond to approach education differently,” said Thom Danckaert, project architect with GMB. “Ludington believes that learning happens everywhere for everyone, and this building is a true testament to that belief.”

The Ludington Elementary School has been recognized as an award-winning project that will inspire other education leaders by American School & University Magazine for a 2022 Outstanding Design Award and by Learning by Design Magazine for a 2023 Outstanding Project Award. The project has also been featured in Education Snapshots, Learning by Design Magazine, and School Construction News.

In addition to the architectural design and engineering services provided by GMB, the elementary school was constructed by The Christman Company, a leading construction management firm. More information about the award-winning school can be found at this link.