The new Dorman High School Early College and Career Center in Spartanburg School District 6 has been designed as an academic community that will prepare students for life beyond high school. Serving junior and senior students, the facility focuses on flexible educational spaces with integrated technology in a building that embodies a collegiate atmosphere. The three story, 164,000 SF facility contains 28 classrooms, computer and science labs, a career center and cafeteria. Classrooms are designed for maximum flexibility with wireless technology and furniture that can easily be rearranged to support different learning styles. Science instruction takes place in teaching labs dedicated to STEM, biology, chemistry and physics.
In addition to meeting the academic curriculum needs of the high school, the facility also completes the long standing need of the school district for a performance space. The Early College contains a 1,500 seat auditorium with a balcony level and the full complement of spaces necessary to accommodate the full spectrum of high school performances. The stage has a 60-foot wide proscenium and contains a fly loft for flying scenery during performances. All of the ancillary spaces necessary for a performing arts space are provided including dressing rooms, a green room, scene shop and ample storage. The visual arts are represented in a dedicated student art gallery outside of the auditorium. For larger events, the gallery can be opened up for receptions that spill out into the lobby.
While surveying the students for input on the building design, one common request was for access to the building after regular school hours. In response to this request, the district will keep the building open for student access until 9:00 at night. When questioned about the types of spaces they would design for their own use, the students described spaces with comfortable furniture and inviting colors similar to coffee shops and book stores. As a result, the two-story student center located on the first floor contains lots of windows for natural light, a full time snack bar, and a variety of furniture that can be arranged to promote collaboration.