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“To build a school is to define what it means to be human.” -Tom James

Currently in the United States, school systems are operating on an outdated model. Originally designed as a way to bring progressive ideas into classrooms, laboratory schools provide an opportunity to address educational problems we are facing today. Originally developed by progressive educator John Dewey, laboratory schools are spaces to design and study the use of cutting edge best practices focused on developing all aspects of the child. Laboratory schools typically operate in association with a university as a space to provide teaching and research experience for future educators.

The new UL Lafayette Learning Lab aims to become a hub of educational innovation by driving an expedition toward innovation, altruism, and excellence in students, educators, and the community. The Learning Lab will merge the innovative models of several successful approaches to learning. Read more about the UL Lafayette Learning Lab.

The purpose of this competition is to design innovative learning spaces for the Learning Lab that reflect a vision to create and sustain a culture of curiosity and creativity, while encouraging the use of knowledge to design a better world. With this competition, we hope to flex the cemented walls binding the notion of learning environments. We encourage you to break those walls so that true learning can emerge.

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We aspire to break away from traditional educational architecture formulas and think creatively about how the Learning Lab can become an inviting, exciting, and inspiring environment for learning.

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We want the final design to serve as an example for schools of the future as well as provide resources and support for current schools in the area.

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We hope to receive design submissions incorporating strategic, dramatic design ideas that will follow the school’s aspirations of designing and testing innovative pedagogy and curricula.



Are you an educator, parent, student, or dreamer? We value your experience and welcome your ideas. No need to worry about creating visuals for your learning space concepts, you can submit a written description. There is no submission fee for this process.





The design competition is broken into two stages:

Stage One is an open competition (designing three Learning Lab Spaces). Anyone can enter Stage One as long as they have a licensed architect on their team. The competition organizers encourage multi-disciplinary teams of teachers and designers, or students and designers. Each entrant (or team) will be required to describe and present three learning spaces and its experiences in text and in renderings and/or storyboards. Three to five unranked winners will be selected by jury, each awarded $1,000.00 USD. Read more about the competition guidelines.

Stage One registration ends September 15, 2019 and entries are due October 1, 2019.



Educators have the most significant impact on a child’s learning experience in school.   The Learning Lab understands that teachers are the professionals who bring students to discover their own versions of success and fulfillment. Please share your ideas with us on how we might create an unconventional learning space to facilitate the development of the whole child, support teacher collaboration and shared knowledge, and promote a culture of innovation and leadership for all.



The environment around us can influence the way we think and feel about learning.  Help us redefine learning spaces into something flexible, dynamic, open, and creative.  Erase everything you know about schools of the past as we invite you to envision the ideal school of today: a school supporting collaboration, design thinking, empathy, sustainability, and innovation for all ages involved. With our audacious mission to improve educational equity and innovation for all Louisiana students by sharing our work with the world, your ideas could potentially impact school designs of the future.



As a parent or K-12 student, we understand that you have a unique perspective on the design of schools.  We hope you will share your ideas of how schools can better support the needs of families and students. What spaces in schools do you think would help students feel welcomed, supported, valued, and challenged?  Reflect on your own time in school and tell us what might improve the learning spaces you experienced. How might these learning spaces extend beyond school hours to bring high quality educational experiences into the larger community?

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Stage Two of the competition will be composed of joint ventures/partnerships/teams of architecture firms with a local architecture firm (located in Lafayette, Acadia, St. Landry, St. Martin, Iberia, or Vermilion Parishes of Louisiana) as the prime contractor, selected by the jury based on Requests for Qualifications and subsequent interviews. Each of the three to five selected joint ventures/partnerships/teams will receive a $12,000.00 USD stipend for Stage Two. You do not have to enter Stage One to participate in Stage Two. However, the jury does consider participation in Stage One as a judging factor. Only one winner will be selected by the jury in Stage Two and they will be required to enter into a Professional Services agreement with a fee established by the Louisiana State Fee Curve for Architects. The three to five Stage One winners will serve an unpaid advisory role for the Stage Two joint ventures/partnerships/teams. The remainder of the competition guidelines can be seen in the “Competition Rules” section of the brief. More information and details will be forthcoming on Stage Two of the competition.

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In STAGE ONE three to five unranked winners will be selected by jury, each awarded $1,000.00 USD.

In STAGE TWO of the competition each of the three to five selected joint ventures/partnerships/teams will receive a $12,000.00 USD stipend for Stage Two.





Below are important dates to remember for both stages of the architectural competition and school development. If you have more questions about the schedule, join our forum and ask the competition advisor any questions you may have about the schedule of events.



2019 DATES

August 15, 2019
Advertisement of Competition, Website goes Online, and Registration Begins 

September 15, 2019
End of Registration 

October 1, 2019
Stage One Entries Due (Uploaded to Website by10pm US Central Standard Time) 

October 15, 2019
Stage One Winners Notified 

October 15, 2019
Request for Qualifications for Stage Two 

November 15, 2019
RFQ’s Due and Interviews held

December 15, 2019
Stage Two Joint Ventures/Partnerships/Teams Selected 


2020 DATES


January 15, 2020
Contracts for Stage Two Signed and Stipends Awarded/Final Program Released 

March 15, 2020
Stage Two Entries Due (Uploaded to Website) 

April 1, 2020
Independent Cost Estimating (To be contracted for by owner) 

April 15, 2020
Stage Two Winner Selected and Notified

May 15, 2020
Professional Services Contract Signed (8 months for design)


2021 - 2022 DATES


January 15, 2021
Construction Documents Due 

February 2021 - July 2022
Construction (17 months)

August 2022
Classes Begin in new Building




Dr. Joseph Savoie, President

Dr. Jaime Hebert, Provost

Nathan Roberts, Dean, College of Education



Lafayette Parish School System

Vermilion Parish Schools

Iberia Parish School Board

Acadia Parish School Board

St. Mary Parish School Board

St. Martin Parish School Board

LSU College of Human Sciences & Education

Southeastern Louisiana University College of Education

Southern University College of Education

Louisiana Tech University College of Education

Acadiana Center for the Arts

Learning Forward Louisiana

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