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Alief ISD and Dallas ISD have been selected to receive the Caudill Award, the highest honor in the annual Exhibit of School Architecture competition facilitated by the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) for projects that exemplify excellence in planning and design of the learning environment. The architectural projects will be on display in the exhibit hall and the winners will be recognized at the 2024 Midwinter Conference in Austin January 28-31.

The winning projects received at least four stars from six areas of distinction, making them eligible for the Caudill Award, which is named after Texas architect William Wayne Caudill (1914–1983), whose progressive concepts continue to influence school design.

Alief ISD won two Caudill Awards, one for the Jefferson Early Learning Center, designed by PBK, and the other for the Martinez Early Learning Center, designed by Huckabee.

The Jefferson Early Learning Center offers Alief ISD’s youngest students a chance to experience the benefits of nature through outdoor activity, play-based learning, and hands-on exploration. The innovative, research-backed design of the 80,557-square-foot center focuses on the individual learner’s experience by providing various specialized environments tailored to diverse learning styles while the overall themes of nature and place are woven in through graphics and furnishings that reflect local experiences and ecosystems. The building, through its immersive environments, natural native landscapes, and courtyards, connects students to their culture and community, embodying what it means to be from Alief, the Gulf Coast, and the state of Texas.

The Martinez Early Learning Center is the inaugural pre-kindergarten campus for Alief ISD. The design takes the form of a village with winding pathways and neighborhoods that house immersive learning experiences to help build literacy and numeracy skills. Curated classroom experiences reflect themes that engage young learners, from space, oceans, and farmland to dinosaurs, construction, and cultures around the world.

Dallas ISD won the award for the renovation of South Oak Cliff High School, designed by KAI. In response to community concerns and a dedication to improving educational environments, the district increased the allocation budgeted for South Oak Cliff High School. The design solution focused on providing a healthy, safe, and equitable learning environment by addressing mechanical and functional deficiencies and right-sizing classrooms and extracurricular spaces. Inspirational design elements elevate the daily student experience and celebrate community pride in what has truly become a community space.

The Exhibit of School Architecture awards are given at the discretion of a 12-member jury: four school board members, four administrators, and four representatives of the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE). The Caudill Award winners were chosen from among 23 projects awarded Stars of Distinction in the areas of community, planning, transformation, design, value, and wellness.