The Union Collegiate Academy (UCA) is a result of long-range planning discussions and the recognition that new secondary facilities needed to be constructed to accommodate student enrollment increases. In lieu of adding onto a facility that housed about 2,250 ninth- and 10th-graders, the decision was made to move the 10th-graders to the high school.
From the ASSOCIATED FIRMLEE & Browne; Wallace Engineering; Howell & Vancuren; Blasdel & Associates; Creative TechnologiesCOST PER SQ FT$206.72FEATURED IN2013 Architectural Portfolio perspective, there were several advantages to the move. The high school seemed to have a greater degree of school pride, more student engagement, and a more focused approach to academic endeavors. Even though maturity is a cause for some of the differences, it was felt the more positive environment would create a positive effect on 10th-graders.
Creating a facility that was not just another addition to the high school and building a “college-like” atmosphere came from discussions on how to meet the district goal of “100% College and Career Ready.”
Attention was given to avoid creating an isolated facility, used just by those attending or aspiring to attend college, and to design and plan for a facility that would have a positive impact on the entire school program. As a result, Union High School has been transformed from the traditional large high school to an open learning environment with the amenities one would find in a university setting. In the end, the vision became reality, and the results were much more positive than even the biggest dreamers could have imagined.
The combination of adding almost 1,200 new students to the high school campus and expanding the curriculum, especially in STEM programs, led to construction of the new three-story, 125,000-square-foot Union Collegiate Academy. The collegiate experience is reinforced by providing several lecture halls, lounge and cafe options in several locations, special science rooms and a virtual learning center. The building opened in fall 2012.