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The Power of Partnerships: Greenville County Schools and McMillan Pazdan Smith Receive National Recognition

Posted by: Megan Campbell on Thursday, October 29, 2015
At the 2015 Council of Educational Facility Planners International (CEFPI) in San Diego, California, Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School received the 2015 James D. MacConnell Award. Representatives from the school district as well as the architectural firm McMillan Pazdan Smith accepted the award. This is yet another beautiful example of public-private partnerships proliferating in Greenville, further propelling Greenville into the national spotlight. The James D. MacConnell Award, considered one of the industry's most prestigious, "recognizes a comprehensive planning process that results in educational facilities that serve the community, enhances the educational program, and meets multiples goals." As in business, the Council believes that great schools begin with communication and planning and seeks to reward those schools that exemplify this belief. According to the CEFPI, “School facilities recognized in this award program might embody great architecture but their successful components and characteristics were founded in an interactive process that engaged multiple stakeholders to create an educational environment that holds purpose and distinction within a community.” At its core, the award is a celebration of the transformative power of partnerships. A multi-disciplinary planning team collaborated on the facility’s initial programming and design, evaluating curriculum, long-range planning, technology, and important energy-efficient and environmentally friendly strategies. The team included key school district representatives, the globally recognized educational programming expert Fielding Nair International, and architectural firm McMillan Pazdan Smith. Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School was selected from four finalists from across the nation.  The school is the first in South Carolina to receive the award and is thought to be the first in the southeast. As the first STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) middle school in the state, the facility is designed to fully integrate as a teaching tool with the project-based curriculum.  Elements include the following:
  • Labeled, color-coded pipes to highlight the flow and consumption of resources
  • Exposed beams, x-bracing, and columns to illustrate the school’s physical properties
  • Communications and power panels wrapped in glass to highlight the building’s highly technological functions
  • A bio-retention pond to retain storm water and to remove harmful hydrocarbons, providing an environmental lesson for students
I recently had the opportunity to tour the facility and believe me, this is one school you will actually want to tour! One quick walk through the school and you will understand exactly why they were honored with this prestigious award. Every detail was meticulously planned and purposefully placed. Greenville County School District and McMillan Pazdan Smith – we celebrate you for the shining example you’ve set. The accolades are great and much-deserved, but the real takeaway is the effect these partnerships have on our community and the power they have to inspire us all to collaborate with one another to build a better (and in this case, brighter) Greenville. Photos provided by Kris Decker/Firewater Photography

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