The Academy of the Holy Names had been located at its current location for the past 90 years. The campus included buildings dating from as early as 1927 with additions as recently as 2016. Fielding developed a master plan over a three-month period of intensive work and a collaborative process involving the school’s leadership team. During the Discovery Phase, school leadership and the community identified key goals that should be met to achieve this plan.
A critical Design Driver of the master plan was the transformation of the academic fabric of the school from a more traditional, self-contained classroom model (“cells and bells”) into “Learning Communities.”
Within this educational community, teachers can incorporate teaching and learning methods into curriculum units that can not be adequately delivered in a traditional classroom. A Learning Community becomes the place where education practice and spatial design can finally work in harmony. It allows new teaching and learning methods to benefit from spaces specifically designed to fit a new model of education.
[The Academy of the Holy Names] is dedicated to challenging all students to become proficient, confident, independent learners, critical and creative thinkers, and skilled problem-solvers.”
In this plan, the middle school would be renovated to transform the interior of the school’s 30,000 SF media and arts center, preserving the exterior envelope and reusing the existing structural frame of the building. The complete transformation of interior space resulted in learning communities for the school’s 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th grade students.
Integration of the library into the Learning Commons gives students direct access to research materials and enables fluid self-directed, independent, and group learning. It also provides a design infrastructure where faculty can ignite discussion, coach, and give feedback to students, and to demonstrate, supervise, observe and consult with student teams as they collaborate.
The existing building required extensive structural reconstruction on the first floor and required completely upgraded HVAC and electrical systems. The first level was constructed using load-bearing CMU walls, which supported a concrete plank flooring system. Additionally, the second floor was constructed of non-load-bearing gyp walls and load-bearing steel columns. The existing space arrangements lacked flexibility, and limited learning modalities for students. Augmenting those challenges, a critical design driver for this transformation was the School’s desire to “Embrace Innovation.”
This was accomplished through the creation of four interlocking communities. Each is a collection of variously sized studios, commons spaces, small group rooms and multi-modal learning areas. The new interlocking communities include a variety of learning spaces that are optimized for a broad range of learning modalities. These spaces are grouped into a suite of rooms centered around a learning commons that encourage collaboration and project-based learning.