St. Anthony of Padua Catholic school receives South Carolina Excellence Award

GREENVILLE, SC – St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School was awarded the Association for Learning Environments’ 2016 Excellence Award during the organization’s annual South Carolina Spring Conference. Started in 1939 by a Franciscan Order of Friars to serve a predominantly African-American community, the parish of St. Anthony of Padua opened their Catholic School in 1951. Nearly 60 years later, they opened a much-needed new 31,000 square foot school in May 2013.

After working with the school on an initial feasibility study and a successful capital campaign, McMillan Pazdan Smith designed an entirely new building serving grades K3-6. Built to USGBC LEED design standards, the new facility features nine “smart” classrooms, a new art room, and library, along with a multi-purpose cafeteria large enough to accommodate all-school assemblies.  The two classroom levels are connected by both an elevator and a monumental staircase that was custom-fabricated by a local metal smith.

McMillan Pazdan Smith’s interior designer applied bold wall graphics in the hallways as a means of way finding, and reinforced the student’s heritage with intricate color schemes inspired by African Kente ceremonial cloth native to South Ghana.  Natural light fills the school and views extend to the mountains offering a welcoming and creative learning environment.  A late donation of 19th century stained glass windows and monastic-style wooden chairs inspired the addition of a special chapel that truly defines this school as Catholic.

Today, the school not only serves the students and parish but also the surrounding, low-income community.  By using a compact floor plan to maximize outdoor space and providing separate access/egress points, the school is able to offer the surrounding community after-hours use of the gymnasium and playground. It also hosts a monthly movie night, basketball tournaments and various other community events. It is truly an asset, providing a strong sense of place to the entire neighborhood.

The Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) is a professional association whose sole mission is improving the places where children learn. The A4LE Excellence Awards, established in 2005, recognize South Carolina's Best in Class school solutions. Past winners exemplify some of the finest school construction projects in South Carolina. Submissions were judged based on how the facility fosters learning opportunities and academic success, innovates in programming, technology and design, engages the community, exhibits sustainable design awareness, and exemplifies architectural excellence.


About St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School

A family of faith for more than 60 years, St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Greenville, SC, prepares students K3-6 grade for leadership and service in a changing world. Our mission is to provide exceptional academic instruction and support faith development of all students, regardless of religious affiliation and tradition.


About McMillan Pazdan Smith

McMillan Pazdan Smith is a regional, studio-based design firm specializing in master planning, architecture and interior design services. Office locations include Charleston, Greenville, and Spartanburg, SC; Atlanta, GA; and Asheville and Charlotte, NC. In 2015, McMillan Pazdan Smith ranked #33 on Architect Magazine’s ARCHITECT 50 list of best U.S. architecture firms in the Business Category and #13 in the nation on Zweig Group’s 2015 Best Firms to Work For list.