Glass Plays a Key Role in Architect Christopher V. Ward’s Award-Winning School Remodel

The work of Los Angeles-based architect Christopher V. Ward, AIA, and general contractor Ed Grush of Signal Hill, Calif., on the design of the new Park Century School Campus in Culver City, Calif., has earned them the national top award for the best commercial remodeled building in the United States by the Chrysalis Awards for Remodeling Excellence.Judged by editors and writers of Better Homes & Gardens, Woman’s Day and Southern Living, the winners were selected from more than 500 entries. Entries were judged on overall design, the creative use of space and materials and the degree to which the project enhanced the original structure.

“Park Century School, an elementary school for learning disabled (LD) children, is fashioned from a circa 1965 concrete tilt-up warehouse. The challenge was to create a unique and inviting campus, with an abundance of natural light and a strong impression of open space on the interior,” says Ward. “A new welcoming façade, inspired by the school’s mission of being a tree of learning, gives the students hope and helps lessen the stigma of attending an LD school. The central atrium, as the principal organizing element, is illuminated by a circular, multi-colored skylight and is paved with natural stone that leads from the core to the front façade, creating an interior ‘Main Street’ and emphasizing the outdoors on the interior.”

The curtainwall features “floating” glass trees, which Ward developed to appear as though they had no support and simply floated in front of the building. Curtainwall was supplied by Double Vision Glass and Pulp Studios; Pulp also worked with Metcoe to supply the skylights.

“The judges remarked that the Park Century School project is one the best examples of adaptive re-use in this year’s competition and has created a wonderful environment for the children who attend. They also said that it is one of the most creative school projects they had seen,” says Ken Kanline, director of the Chrysalis Awards. “This was the first year they have entered the awards, and to take home top honors on the first attempt is impressive.”

Ward and Grush will be honored at the 16th annual Chrysalis Awards for Remodeling Excellence on June 5 at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta during the Southern Building Show.