The New School
The New School is an independent school in Fayetteville, Arkansas, that promotes collaborative learning and a sense of community among its students. This project consisted of 3 new buildings: Academic Center, Innovation Center, and Athletic Center. The buildings gradually traverse a sloping site, while fitting into a heavily wooded campus and offer a more modern take on the local vernacular.
The New School is an independent school established in Fayetteville, Arkansas in 1974. The school’s vision is to empower their students to “be confident and engaged learners who lead through collaboration and compassion”. As The New School has grown, so has the desire to expand the grade offering from Pre-K through 8th grade to Pre-K through 12th grade, creating a need to add new buildings to the existing campus, which sits on a wooded and sloping 26 acres. As phase 1 of an overall masterplan, this project consisted of a 36,000 square foot Academic Center, an 8,000 square foot Innovation Center, and a 17,000 square foot Athletic Center. These three buildings step up the edge of the sloping site, connected with a canopy along the buildings and a meandering walk set into the landscape, creating a central green at the heart of the campus. The buildings give a nod to local vernacular with the use of local stone, also found on other existing buildings on the campus, glue laminated structure, galvanized aluminum roofs and galvanized accent strips on the façade between fiber cement panels that will gently “patina” over time.
The Academic Center houses grades 5-12 with classrooms, science labs, collaboration spaces, and offices. To fit in with the school’s mission, the classrooms are sized for smaller student counts and designed for flexible and collaborative learning. Each classroom has angled walls to encourage this flexibility, as well as writing surfaces on every wall, so there is not a standard front of the classroom. In addition to the classrooms, within the wide corridors, students can utilize the collaboration areas throughout the corridor, which are partially enclosed with glass walls for transparency and interaction and outfitted with televisions, white boards, and tackable wall surfaces. Between the collaboration areas and windows into all classrooms, student learning and engagement is constantly on display.
The Innovation Center is connected to the Academic Center via a glass bridge and contains maker spaces, a robotics lab, a woodworking shop, computer labs, and a cybercafé/commons space. This building allows students to create and innovate while being connected to the outdoors with expansive glass. There is also a porch on the second floor adjacent to the cybercafe which allows students to enjoy the outdoors with views out to the green commons. The hexagonal stair references the shape of the collaboration spaces in the Academic Center. The stair design allowed for bench seating on the first floor and the hexagon translated to suspended acoustic panels from the roof structure above.
The Athletic Center is the final piece at the top of the slope. It has a competition basketball court, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, and a mezzanine with extra seating and a weight room. Currently the full-sized court can seat about 450, but the gym is designed to be added to in a future phase for additional court space and seating capacity. The interior has natural light from windows on the east and north that also provide views of the natural campus.
The New School campus sits on a wooded and sloping 26-acre site. The three buildings included in Phase One of an overall masterplan step up the edge of the sloping site, connected with a canopy along the buildings and a meandering walk set into the landscape, creating a green at the heart of the campus.
The glass bridge connects the Academic and Innovation Centers with built in seating and views out to the green commons.