Driven by the growing needs of the community, the new Philip Simmons High School is surrounded by 9,000 acres of undeveloped forested wetland. The forest setting informed the material palette and spatial elements, including a “technology forest” for that serves as a commons or touch down area equipped with recharging stations for the students. Its adjacency to the cafeteria though full height glass overhead doors allows the expansion of student dining or events.
Inside the building, every core academic area surrounds a flexible workspace for group projects or independent learning, a key element of 21-st century learning environments. A media center houses a progressive electronic library and a coffee shop. Outside the building, courtyards are utilized for outdoor learning classrooms. The cafeteria opens onto a courtyard that allows for exterior dining, and is shared by the visual arts program exterior work areas.
In the business and hospitality academy, students learn about hotel careers such as managing a front desk and other aspects of hospitality, and contains an area for a mock hotel room. In the health science academy, students learn about human biology and other medical skills in a hospital type setting. A mechatronics lab is also included for students to engage in all types of engineering and technology. The new high school also contains a 650-seat theater and full-size gymnasium which opens up to an auxiliary gymnasium creating an expansive spaces for athletics.
Opened in August 2017, the 215,000 SF facility houses 1,200 students with core facilities designed to accommodate a potential expansion to 1,500 students. The project has a $69 million budget. By having the contractor on board from the beginning, the money the team saved through streamlined processes enabled the school to add multiple alternates including special athletics areas, and terrazzo flooring throughout the entire school. Because we worked with the contractor to understand the pricing implications of design choices in real-time there were no surprises when the GMP was announced.