As a first step in the process, while preparing the master plan, we conducted “unfocused groups” or brainstorm sessions to gain input from all key stakeholders on this project, including administrators, board members, students, parent groups, facility managers, civic leaders, and other community members. Our “unfocused” sessions used a town hall meeting format and assigned attendees to small groups that toured the school and provided an understanding of why improvements were needed. Participants felt a sense of ownership of the plans to renovate the school and were better able to have their questions and concerns addressed.
The resulting master plan was developed to be implementable in two phases. Phase One allowed for future demolition and relocation of existing, adjacent fine arts space, and a new athletic space addition adjacent to the new gymnasium. Phase Two included a four-story addition to the existing building to house music, art, vocational, social studies and science facilities.
Webster Groves High School is an excellent example of the challenges many school districts face when trying to upgrade legacy schools to 21st century learning spaces. Our design solution sought to gain the most usable space from a small footprint.
On the third floor, where the science labs are located, a center courtyard was created so natural light could penetrate into all the spaces. The intersection of hallways in the third-floor science department features a dome that pulls sound in from the hallways, as well as a teaching station with a white board, as an open multipurpose space. A rooftop garden, accessible from the courtyard, includes vegetative areas, a green roof, space for a portable green house, and resources for students to conduct science experiments. Additionally, small collaboration areas are located just outside of the classrooms so that students can have small group interactions.
Other special features of the project included a rainwater harvesting system, and basement-level vocational shops with automobile lifts.
- 2012 Award of Excellence, Architecture & Craftsmanship, City of Webster Groves