NORTHFIELD, Vt. — Norwich University’s Design+Build Collaborative earned praise from the American Institute of Architects, Vermont chapter (AIAVT) with a Citation Award in the Education category for a project led by Architecture Professor Tolya Stonorov in which she and her students partnered with Montpelier’s Union Elementary School and the community to design and build an outdoor classroom/playhouse called NEST as part of the school’s playground renovations.

“The process of engagement between architecture students and the community, especially with children, is commendable as a means of teaching collaboration and engagement in design,” the jury said in comments provided by AIAVT. “The combination of inclusive dialogue and exploration to create a shared community asset is inspiring. 

Stonorov and her students worked closely with the Union Elementary School students and a Union Elementary volunteer committee of parents, teachers, administrators and community members to define the project and how it serves the larger playground’s needs.

The NEST playhouse is Americans with Disabilities Act-accessible, with wood features made from local hemlock and local white cedar sourced from Fontaine Mills in East Montpelier and Goodridge Lumber in Albany, Vermont, and sealed with Vermont Natural Coatings Hardwick, Vermont. Every material is chosen with the utmost care with an eye toward durability and local, sustainable and green technology.

This project was enabled by the many partners who donated and discounted their materials/labor: DeWolfe Engineering Associates of Montpelier, Vermont; DMS Machining and Fabrication of Barre, Vermont; RK Miles of Morrisville, Vermont, Big Heel Fasteners of Barnard, Kansas; InCord of Colchester, Connecticut; and Bellavance Trucking of Barre, Vermont.

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Daphne Larkin
Office of Communications
Norwich University
Northfield, Vt.
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