As it looked to its 100th anniversary, this private K-12 school planned a significant capital expansion to accommodate an expanding high school program with a physical space supporting the school’s forward-focused educational mission. Our award-winning design gives expression to a highly progressive educational vision with a mix of open and flexible learning spaces, encouraging an innovative curriculum and hands-on learning.
The new Stirn Hall draws inspiration from its formerly agrarian historic estate and the barns which were located on the site until 1977. This building without corridors extends the white-on-white character of the existing Gates Mills Upper School, integrating different building components to take advantage of the variety of campus landscapes. The design intent creates a building composed of classrooms and commons spaces of diverse scale and character, distributed loosely throughout the floor plates. This loose organization of spaces provides a seamlessness between the varied experiences and modes of learning that mark the day of a student – from classrooms for lecture, application, inquiry, to open collaboration spaces and social commons for the exchange of ideas.
The program encompasses three distinct kinds of spaces: “Making” (biology, science, and fabrication labs) oriented to the woods and creek; “Sharing” (commons, auditoria, and social spaces) with views of the meadow; and “Inquiry” (classrooms, offices, and humanities) oriented to a new orchard. Students circulate between learning spaces through gracious common areas filled with natural light and views to the landscape that defines the campus. The invigorating Stirn Hall supports new ways of learning and teaching, even those that haven’t been thought of yet.