A sneak peek into our new academic building!
I’m so excited to offer you a sneak peek into our new academic building, the Mary Louise Evans! Opening this fall, these four walls will become a thriving hub for our entire community and the main home to the Middle School. Every aspect of the design is purposeful, designed by our faculty, uniquely for our learners.
Middle School Principal, Rob Kapner, sat down with me to walk me through some design highlights of this new, world-class facility.
Katie: How will the Mary Louise Evans Building support the learner experience at ISDenver?
Rob: It goes without saying that we are so much more than any one building. But what is beautiful about the new building is that its intentional design not only supports but augments both teaching and learning within the International Baccalaureate framework. Here are a few examples:
Grade-level learning pods. Think of this as home base for each grade. This will be where students have their cubbies, meet for advisory, and attend their core academic classes. The pods will allow for grade-level meetings, and other targeted activities that will be particularly helpful in the early days of the 6th-grade transition.
Flexible learning spaces are incorporated into both the pod structures and the learning center. This supports our Middle Years Programme teaching and learning model, which is rooted in project-based inquiry. The building will have a variety of what we are calling “huddle rooms” that will support student-student and student-teacher collaboration. Students can retreat to these spaces that are connected to or very near the classrooms for a variety of purposes, from working with our support team, collaborating on a project, or simply finding some quiet space to work independently. Support services and enrichment will be closely integrated into the normal flow of the classroom learning experience. The central pod areas themselves are designed for what we fondly call “messy learning” where students and/or teachers can settle into a variety of adaptable spaces to read, study, work, discuss, construct,… you get the picture - messy learning knows no bounds. Traditional hallways have morphed into inspired learning spaces.
Common workspace and functional design will facilitate rich faculty collaboration by grade level and by subject. Teachers will be able to plan together and coordinate interdisciplinary learning activities. Indeed, as the lead building architect, Martin Goldstein says, “the whole building is designed around the notion of people 'bumping into each other.'” The intentional flow of the building will encourage spontaneous interactions among all parties. We all know that many of our best ideas come from these short, incidental conversations.
Dedicated space for art, music, science, and design will support the wonderful programs we have in place. Students will have space to explore, experiment, design, build, create, and perform. Our architects watched our teachers in action and listened to their wishes when they designed these spaces. Flexibility and functionality will allow students to actively indulge in their learning experiences.
Katie: Is the goal of the new building to grow the Middle School?
Rob: Our new building is designed first and foremost to support our students - both new and those who have been with us through the years - as they enter our middle school. The space is intentionally designed to right-size our middle school classes. With classroom space for 240 learners (80 in each of the G6, G7, and G8), we are balancing the small-group benefits for students of being known, understood, connected, and supported by our caring faculty, with the larger-group boosts that come from social networks, sports teams, and peer groups.
Katie: What else do you want prospective families to know?
Rob: I could go on and on, but this should give you some good insight into why we are so excited about next year and beyond. We are incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to work with an extremely talented team of architects to create a world-class building that supports 21st-century student-centered teaching and learning. Our awesome student experience made possible by our awesome faculty will only get that much more awesome.
I’d love to connect with you. If you are eager to learn more about our new building and how it will bring IB education to life at ISDenver, reach out anytime!
“This building doesn’t look like the schools you and I grew up in -- nor should it.”
Bob Carignan, Head of School