Alexandria Area High School
Open floor plans, daylighting, mobility and flexibility highlight the dramatic environments of the new Alexandria Area High School. The design evolved from a large-scale public process among the community, students and administrators. The result, which replaces classrooms and desks with reconfigurable spaces, is adaptable to the future of education ASSOCIATED FIRMJLG ArchitectsCAPACITY1,400COST PER SQ FT$204.00CITATIONHigh School CitationFEATURED IN2015 Architectural Portfolio vocation.
A co-creative design process organized the school into four wings: one devoted to sports activities, one to performing arts and a 1,013-seat performing arts center, the others housing learning spaces. All surround a daylighted, three-story Community Commons that serves as the heart of the school.
Academic programming is offered in four “academies” divided into two, three-story wings that feature an open building design. One academy is for freshmen. The others are grouped around interdisciplinary subjects: business, communication and entrepreneurship; engineering, manufacturing technologies and natural resources; and health sciences and human services. Collectively known as the “Academies of Alexandria,” these small learning communities feature an array of flexible spaces and specialized hands-on learning labs.
A different academy is on each wing’s first and third floors, with shared space on the second floor. “Learning Stairs” provide an area for flexible learning, assembly space or just a place to hang out. Glass classroom walls can be reconfigured as technology and students’ needs change. Flexible furniture empowers students and teachers to reshape the environments to support a wide range of learning activities.
The success of a strong community engagement process also is paying dividends: Business partners get directly involved in educating the future workforce and give students hands-on opportunities to learn about different fields from actual practitioners. Residents enjoy participating in community education courses and attending events and performances.
Alexandria Area High School is a community hub for learners of all ages and strengthens the district’s capacity to support 21st-century educational programming.