Dorman High School, Early College & Career Center, Spartanburg School District 6

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  • Association for Learning Environments (A4LE, formerly CEFPI), Excellence in Design Honor Award, 2015 
  • National Terrazzo & Mosaic Association, Honor Award, 2015

The Early College and Career Center is an academic community that serves as a collegiate and career transitional environment for upperclassmen and students taking high-level college preparatory courses. The three-story, 164,000 SF facility focuses on flexible educational spaces with integrated technology in a building that embodies a collegiate atmosphere. Designers created functional spaces that replicate the autonomy and environment of that next phase of life for young adults — careers and college.

Student input was critical to shaping the collaborative, project-based learning environment with amenities to support both social and academic functions. Special features include a career center and two-story student center, accessible after hours and over the weekend, and patterned after a convenient coffee shop. Twenty-eight classrooms are designed for maximum flexibility and include 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. Teachers don’t have traditional classrooms but share planning spaces and move within different classroom settings, similar to a university setting.

The College and Career Center also contains a 1,500-seat auditorium, the first for the district, with a balcony level and a full complement of performance spaces similar to a professional theatre. The stage features a 60-foot wide proscenium and contains a fly loft for lifting scenery during performances — and all professional ancillary spaces, including: dressing rooms, a green room, scene shop, and storage. The visual arts are represented in a dedicated student art gallery outside of the auditorium. For larger events, the gallery and lobby can accommodate receptions and events.