The Lois Cowles Harrison School for the Visual and Performing Arts

Lakeland, Florida

  • FIRM

    KBJ Architects


    School Board of Polk County

  • AREA

    87,033 sq.ft.





Prior to this major addition and renovation, school programs were sprinkled among multiple facilities. A consensus emerged that the facility and core programs needed integration into a unified organization. The design’s core was the drive to transform ordinary construction materials into a vehicle to help create, inspire and deliver both tangible ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCOST PER SQ FT$181.62FEATURED IN2010 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYSpecialized intangible aspects of the arts.

The design features a signature sweeping- glass front facade with a three-story rotunda, framed vistas and a sequential entry procession. Further enhancing the curriculum, a state-of-the-art black-box theater, mini theater, choral, orchestra, dance and visual-arts facilities were included in the new program.

Initial evaluations of the proposed site revealed many opportunities to enhance the learning/teaching experience. However, expanding the facilities on an existing dense and mature campus brought design challenges. The existing site’s constraints included protected wetlands. Providing a functional and environmentally efficient stormwater-management facility were incorporated to protect wetlands.

With this project, the school can add majors in guitar, film, video production, creative writing, world vocal music and jazz band, and each program can have its own space. The school has added about 120 students in four new majors. The new facility enables the school to compete nationally for the finest in performing arts.