Two buildings repurposed by the Westerville City School District have earned national recognition for their design.

Two buildings repurposed by the Westerville City School District have earned national recognition for their design.

The Academic Enrichment Center, 336 Otterbein Ave., earned a Publisher's Commendation Award for Outstanding Educational Facility Design in the spring 2012 edition of "Learning by Design" magazine.

The guide, published twice a year by the National School Boards Association, showcases innovative school designs projects.

The Academic Enrichment Center was one of only three Publisher's Commendation Awards given in the recent edition.

The magazine also recognized the district's Early Learning Center, 936 Eastwind Drive, as an "Outstanding Design Project."

Both buildings opened at the beginning of this school year after a $2.8-million renovation project that converted the district's former administrative offices into the Academic Enrichment Center and turned an existing office building into the Early Learning Center, which houses a portion of the district's preschool program.

The renovations were paid for with funds from a 2009 capital-improvement levy.

The Academic Enrichment Center, described by the magazine as having a "sleek, professional design to give students a glimpse of the working world that will await them after graduation," was modeled after coffee shops and student unions.

The alternative school was meant to have a design that would allow students to feel at ease, with an open layout and a variety of spaces for studying and socializing, including an outdoor classroom and a kitchenette.

The Early Learning Center includes bright designs and Westervillage, a model of a town with working lights and doors.

In planning the facility, the district examined children's museums and children's programs to find a successful design that promoted early learning.

"The design team was challenged to rethink conventional learning and provide an environment designed for current and future students," the magazine said.

The design of the Early Learning Center ties into the administrative offices above, with a tube slide in the main lobby connecting the two spaces.

It also includes an outdoor learning and play area that incorporates natural features of the facility's outdoor space.