Design Award Entries

Sylvan Hills High School

The 1968 Sylvan Hills High School campus was out of date and undersized for the student population. The WER team was tasked with revitalizing the campus – designing new construction facilities and updating existing ones – all while the campus remained open throughout design and construction. The final results are a modern, high tech high school campus that will serve the Sherwood community for generations.

Project Statement

The WER design team had the opportunity to work with Pulaski County Special School District and the Sherwood community to bring a grossly undersized 1968 high school up to size to serve a 2,200-student enrollment. They wanted the campus to reflect the growth that is happening in their community and show they are looking to the future with this project to serve as a reflection that the people and educators in this community place a high value on a first-rate education for their children. A series of new buildings placed in the appropriate places on the existing campus helps to reorient the campus to the south, providing a new brand and visual identity with a new “front door”, all while keeping the robust campus operational and safe for students during three years of construction.

Phase One included a 120,000 square foot classroom and dining addition with a new admin suite to the south. This set the ground work for new circulation routes to separate busses from parent and student traffic and provide more parking for staff and events as well as dedicated service and delivery access outside of any student circulation. Included in phase one are core classrooms, a new media center overlooking the outdoor gathering space that allows students access to the original 1968 building, still in use, and the new addition. The new dining hall flows from this outdoor space into the new addition connecting the new with the existing. The new front atrium has a large blue stadium staircase connecting the lower level to the media center above, giving students “a spot to hang out”, a space our team discovered was important to them during programming.

Phase Wwo included a new Performing Arts Center, Indoor Practice Facility, and a Multi-Use Basketball Arena. The indoor practice navigates the steep grade change on the east edge of campus affording a two-story solution where the football team has direct access to the field, placing locker rooms and coach’s offices with views to the football field and to the practice field on the lower level. The Arena also uses this grade change to bring spectators in on grade on the concourse level with a court level below housing locker rooms and support spaces. The Arena seats 2,200 people allowing for state tournaments to be hosted and also gives the campus a place to gather the entire student population together.

The performing Arts Center provides the theater department a true theater experience with a state-of-the-art audio visual and mechanical fly system with multiple catwalks for the 1,000 seat auditorium. Its lobby doubles as an art gallery for student exhibitions, which was another program piece the students pushed for during the programming of the new additions and that the administration felt was important to work in but needed to be done without adding additional square footage.

All of the buildings were designed to bring daylight into all spaces, the large expanses of glass with various shades of blue tint dapple the interior space with their school color, moving throughout the day with the sun. This is complimented by the large graphics and signage that WER designed for the interior branding to reinforce school pride throughout.

AIA Arkansas