Union School District’s state-of-the-art new STEM Lab (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) at Dartmouth Middle School in San Jose, CA was honored on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 with the prestigious Award of Merit from the Leroy F. Greene Design + Planning Awards. This program is administered by the Coalition of Adequate School Housing (C.A.S.H.) and the American Institute of Architects California Council. Award recipients were recognized at C.A.S.H.’s 38th Annual Conference on School Facilities. The awards program honors projects throughout California with demonstrable excellence in six key categories – planning process, learning environment, design, community environment, physical environment and high performance. Completed in early 2016, the Dartmouth Middle School STEM Lab exemplifies these characteristics at the highest level.

The new building is a haven for creativity and exploration, one that allows for a full range of digital, physical and environmental spaces that are adaptable to the students’ desires and allows them to truly immerse in the design, fabrication and testing of their greatest imaginations. The design solution for the project was a pre-engineered modular building (from American Modular Systems) with flexible interior space that can be configured for direct instruction, small group collaboration, industry professional demonstrations and community events. The facility utilizes nanawall technology and agile furnishings to achieve these various states, and couples that technology with the use of white board surfacing, touch screens and power reels. The facility has the capability to drive in a Tesla Model S vehicle, deconstruct some of its mechanics and learn about the electric drive technology first hand – a local industry partnership which was realized within the first week of the facility’s opening. The facility meets LEED Gold standards by the integrated use of solar tubes, shading devices, recycled materials and construction waste reduction that were perfected by the manufacturer under their own environmental processes.

Union School District ultimately wanted to make a statement that a facility of this kind is not just important to a community like the Silicon Valley, but that using standardized construction methods, a school district in California can provide a world-class learning environment in a cost effective and time sensitive manner. The legacy of the Dartmouth Middle School STEM Lab is that students of all ages and backgrounds deserve to receive a globally competitive education. As a prototype for more to come, this facility provides the promise where students can explore, learn and fabricate their dreams with the hope of one day becoming executive entrepreneurs themselves.

Video of the Awards: https://youtu.be/IrEbUsn_AIA