Cherry Creek Innovation Campus
Design Achievement - Cherry Creek School District seeks to implement innovation throughout all grade levels of their schools, with the focus of the new Cherry Creek Innovation Campus being on enhanced career-based programs for students to explore, experiment and celebrate pathways of learning in preparation for college and career. 11th- and 12th-graders will soon have an amazing learning space in which to delve further into careers of today and tomorrow such as Business/Marketing, STEAM/IT, Advanced Manufacturing, Health Sciences, Culinary/Hospitality, Infrastructure Engineering and Transportation/Logistics. These program strands will complement and extend the current CTE programs within the existing CCSD high school network. The DLR Group design creates various learning environments and social spaces from traditional classrooms for instruction, to more intense lab environments that provide hands on areas for project based curriculum. High-bay labs provide flexible learning spaces for experimentation and exploration, some with direct access to sheltered outdoor work areas. The ‘i-commons’ is at the heart of this campus, a place for intentional collisions and synergy between the interdisciplinary interactions, industry partners, and specific programs. Additional i-commons flex spaces are dispersed throughout the facility to promote strategic interaction and encourage collaboration.
Scope Summary - The Cherry Creek Innovation Campus is designed to be 110,0000sf on a 42-acre site with rolling hills and a deep arroyo; the topography of the site supporting the building’s future forward design. The site allows for further programmatic expansion and addition of other buildings and facilities. Spaces will include high/low intensity labs and classrooms, i-commons/social spaces, culinary lab and café, small and large collaboration and project areas, and exterior work yards. The façade will include masonry and metal panel including areas of distinctive ‘Cherry Red’, to reinforce district branding. DLR Group provided planning, programming, architecture, interiors, branding/signage and structural engineering.
A New Approach to Education
Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) in Colorado made a bold commitment to elevate and diversify its educational approach and prepare students differently for the workforce they’ll enter by placing greater emphasis on innovation, critical thinking skills, and advanced career-based programs. To achieve this feat, the district partnered with DLR Group to design the new Cherry Creek Innovation Campus (CCIC), a facility that expands college and career preparatory opportunities currently available to 11th and 12th grade students at the District’s seven high schools.
The Innovation Campus supports learners at all levels. Students who plan to attend college can take dual enrollment courses to earn credit toward their college degree.
Students who prefer to enter the workforce or military immediately can learn skills or trades that help prepare them for their careers. And students who have not decided on a career path can further explore interests and build skill sets that will give them a competitive advantage as they enter the workforce. Students also will have opportunities for off-site internships and apprenticeships for hands-on experience in a variety of potential career fields. There is no longer one path to success, there are now multiple pathways that enable students to evolve into the entrepreneurs of tomorrow.
Today’s students need hands-on learning opportunities that allow them to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills they will use in future careers. Our design provides a flexible and adaptable environment that will evolve as future careers and the demands of the Colorado workforce evolve.
DLR Group’s design for the 117,000 SF CCIC comprises a variety of learning environments and social spaces from traditional classrooms for instruction, to more intense labs that provide hands-on areas for a project-based curriculum that includes everything from health sciences + wellness, to artificial intelligence, to advanced manufacturing to STEAM/IT. Industry-specific spaces support real-world training or trade certification programs, and high-bay labs provide flexible spaces for experimentation and exploration. The high bay labs for infrastructure, aviation, and transportation logistics have direct access to sheltered work areas for enhanced learning opportunities to create + explore in authentic outdoor environments.
Cherry Creek School District officials aligned their focus with the Colorado Workforce Development Council and Colorado’s Career Clusters to identify the seven career pathways available to students, including advanced manufacturing, business services, culinary/hospitality, health services, infrastructure engineering, IT/STEAM, and transportation. By also collaborating with industry partners, the District and designers were able to better understand the goals and needs of each career pathway and ensure critical design parameters such as special space requirements with access, loading on the floor, furniture and fixtures, and equipment needs were appropriately defined.
DLR Group incorporated an ‘i-commons’ at the heart of the campus. It is designed to encourage intentional collisions and synergy between the interdisciplinary interactions, industry partners, and career-based programs through circulation and break out areas outside of the specific learning labs. The desire to maintain transparency and curiosity throughout the campus is reinforced through the use of glazing to provide visual accessibility into learning spaces and to encourage interaction among the different pathways. The i-commons also is further activated by the adjacent Cafe/Culinary program and main learning stair, which connects the two levels of the facility.
Embracing the Site and Slope
The CCIC is nestled on 40 acres in Dove Valley, in the central core of the District. Bounded by two main thoroughfares, the site slopes dramatically to a low point that runs north-south at the center of the site. Rather than shying away from the slope, designers embraced the opportunity to frame a unique building with a unique roofline. The design follows the topo lines along the north-south axis and features contrasting roof lines that step down the slope, creating an iconic structure the community will recognize and celebrate for generations to come.