A School for the Community: Baca Dlo’ay Azhi

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Community, culture and sustainability – our first project celebrating Native American Heritage Month is a true example of how design can be influenced by local culture to produce a beautiful and highly-functional facility. Baca Dlo’ay Azhi Community School in Prewitt, New Mexico was one of the first education projects designed by Dyron Murphy Architects, and it was the first LEED certified building in New Mexico.

From the overall footprint of the building to the imprinted detailing on the walls, Baca Dlo’ay Azhi demonstrates the importance of local influences on building design.

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The DMA team drew inspiration from Diné culture, symbolically incorporating functions and colors associated with the Circle of Life into the project design. The main entry faces east toward Mt. Taylor, which is one of the four sacred mountains to the Diné people. Other design elements addressed the four sacred directions with the four wings of the building radiating from a central core. At the central core is the library where students and staff can gather under the light of a central skylight.

Inspiration 2 - Corn

To connect the building to the site, the spaces between building elements are landscaped with native plants, creating an interplay between the man-made and natural worlds. Corn motifs are imprinted on exterior walls, noting another significant element in Diné culture.

Baca Dlo’ay Azhi Community School received a White House Closing the Circle Award Honorable Mention, Sustainable/Green Buildings Category, in 2005. The school also received the Department of the Interior Energy Award in 2004.

Learn more about our Native and Education projects on our website.

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An Architect’s Reward

Defining the “greatest” reward is difficult because the field of architecture spans many different facets of life. Is a Plexiglas trophy from the AIA “more” rewarding than a handshake and a heartfelt thank you from a grateful client? I am honestly not sure. All I can do is share one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my (admittedly brief) experience.

The project was to take a 50-year old brick school house and bring it up to 21st century standards. We replaced dilapidated finishes in the classrooms, improved safety features, and brought in natural light throughout the building. The before-and-after photos are striking, and the school administrators were extremely happy with the results. I’m sure that had a little to do with the fact that we renovated the admin area as well, but I digress.  Education is a cause that I care about deeply. Being able to make such a marked improvement in the daily lives of students and teachers (and being appreciated for it) is a truly special feeling.

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Introducing the First Annual SASC

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It’s August. The summer is winding down, stores are stocking school supplies, and students all over are packing as much fun into their last few weeks of summer freedom as they possibly can. After recent budget cuts (discussed here), a lot of students won’t have after school programs, art or music classes, or their favorite electives to look forward to.

So, we decided to see if we can fix that, and give students something to look forward to.

At Dyron Murphy Architects, P.C. (DMA) we are continually looking for ways we can help our community. This year, we wanted to do something bigger. Something better. Something that will benefit Native American students throughout the southwest. Our goal is to empower students, to encourage them to not only make it through school, but excel and even enjoy their classes. We want to inspire engagement with all areas of education, from math and science, to reading and cultural studies.

DMA is pleased to announce the first annual Native American Student Architect Sketch Competition (SASC). The SASC gives students the opportunity to explore their creativity while thinking critically about the structural elements of a building. The competition exposes students to the field of architecture, and provides a creative platform for teachers and students to investigate core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) lessons, in addition to history, communication, language and other lessons.

For more information on the competition (rules and regulations, etc.) check out the “Student Architect Sketch Competition” tab above. Or click here.

House Passes Student Success Act with Rep. Young Amendment to Protect Alaska Native Education Programs | Delta News Web

There have been no major legislative measures directed toward primary education since 2001. No Child Left Behind (passed in 2001) was the last “serious” act passed in regards to elementary and secondary education. As many people – students, parents, teachers, administrators, and politicians – have noted, No Child Left Behind is a seriously flawed system. So why has it taken 12 years to fix?

We’re not politicians, so we won’t speculate on the incredible delay that’s seen a whole generation of students pass through the K-12 grades under the No Child Left Behind Act. But we will encourage our readers to check out the recently passed piece of legislation that is (finally!) aimed at changing the way education is approached in America.

The Student Success Act does away with Adequate Yearly Progress and federally mandated interventions, and gives parents more control over their child’s education.

Read the details here:

House Passes Student Success Act with Rep. Young Amendment to Protect Alaska Native Education Programs | Delta News Web.