Conserve School

Land O`Lakes, Wisconsin

  • FIRM

    Interplan LLC


    Central Steel & Wire Company

  • AREA

    308,000 sq.ft.





Some 1,200 acres of pristine wilderness deep in the Northwoods of Wisconsin provide the site for this one-of-a-kind, college-preparatory boarding school for students in grades 9 to 12. The school’s conservation mission permeates all of its endeavors. The spaces reflect the school’s programs, which foster environmental awareness, ethics, leadership and ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$168.00CITATIONGold CitationFEATURED IN2003 Educational InteriorsINTERIOR CATEGORYCommon Areas innovation, and further cultivate the warm, family-like environment desired.

The design approach was to strongly consider the environment, minimizing the effect of the 13-building campus on the site’s ecosystem, while conveying a lively and youthful image so students feel nurtured and safe in a “home away from home.” The designers took advantage of the views and sunlight in the orientation of the buildings and windows.

All campus buildings are made of fieldstone and wood, with shake roofs, and the interior design integrates and mirrors the natural exterior environment. One of the primary visual concepts is the omnipresent use of large wood members of differing lengths, spring points, sizes and colors. These elements not only serve a structural purpose, but also are meant as a physical metaphor for the branches and trunks of the surrounding trees.

The main gathering area surrounds visitors with an impressive volume upon entering the building at the second-floor level. This dramatic space is breathtaking, from the high skylight, to the powerful trusses and wood ceiling overhead, to the activities of the floor below, and finally, to the re-association with the outdoors beyond. This space, in the heart of the Academic Building, is a central place where large or small groups can gather informally. This room incorporates cafe and lounge seating, study tables and private group-study cubicles, and serves as an entrance hall to the adjoining auditorium. A favorite gathering spot is the grand fireplace and hearth, which is integral to a massive stone water-wall flowing into a tranquil free-form interior pond. Bright, yet natural, colors and patterns are incorporated in the furnishings and blend with the surrounding forest, while providing a cozy contrast to the snowy landscape through the long winters.

"Very creative use of structure, space, materials, color and natural lighting."—2003 jury