Campus Plan: FAQs

Upper School STEM & Humanities Center

Why did the DA Campus Plan prioritize the Upper School first?

Our parents, students and faculty expect the highest caliber programming. The Upper School science, physics and primary classroom buildings represented the most immediate need — their rapidly aging, outdated state restricted even modest growth in the Upper School. Instructional space limitations and the buildings' inflexible layout restricted programming. The buildings could not accommodate an increase in population for capacity and safety reasons.

The Upper School STEM & Humanities Center represents phases one and two of the DA Campus Plan. When complete it will serve as the academic hub for the Upper School, housing English, history, math, science (biology, chemistry, physics) and robotics. 

The Upper School need was more urgent and construction could be completed in a much shorter time frame than the comprehensive renovation required at the Middle School.

What is the timeline for completion of the STEM and Humanities Center?

The STEM & Humanities center will be a 46-thousand square-foot, two-story building housing Upper School biology, chemistry, physics, math, English and history, with labs, a makerspace, flexible small group student study/meeting rooms and offices for faculty.

Construction will be in two phases over 2017 and 2018, with the building ready for use in summer 2019.

See a fly-through of the project, the construction timeline and building specifications.

Middle School Master Planning

What is the plan for the Middle School?

Master planning for the comprehensive Middle School renovation began in February 2017 with a series of workshops to include input from faculty, staff, parents and students. Master planning concluded in July 2017, with the final plan approved by the Board of Trustees in October 2017. Phases 3 through 6 of the DA Campus Plan involve a multi-year, campus-wide renovation of the Middle School. Middle School construction is anticipated to begin in summer 2019, with all phases of the DA Campus Plan staged over five years. Each construction segment will be prioritized by urgency, complexity and cost.

Why did Durham Academy decide to keep the Middle School on Academy Road?

The Middle School is the first home DA ever constructed from the ground up. It represents an emotional and historical connection for the school. The Academy Road campus housed all DA students (grades pre-k through 10) from 1966 to 1973 when the Upper School was completed on Ridge Road, and it continued to house the Preschool, Lower School and Middle School until 2002, when the current Preschool/Lower School was built on Ridge Road. Over time, the campus has been retrofitted to serve its changing student population. 

One of the issues that generated a significant amount of research and discussion during 2015 strategic planning process was whether DA should unite its divisions on the Ridge Road campus. Ultimately, several factors contributed to the decision to keep the Middle School on Academy Road.

Developmentally, there are advantages to being able to focus on a very specific age group at a very transitional time in children's lives - academically, socially, emotionally and physically.

Programmatically, the Middle School's location as its own oasis allows faculty to structure the entire school day around its age group with a great deal of flexibility.

Socially, students are able to enjoy freedom from the scrutiny of an older peer group and the security of an environment where they can grow up, gain confidence, take risks and lead.

There is no parcel of land that would rival the current Middle School's 22 expansive acres, with an open campus that instills students with a sense of freedom and an outdoor learning environment that allows them to use their campus as a classroom.

The comprehensive renovation as part of the DA Campus Plan will reimagine Academy Road to support the best student experience imaginable, incorporating innovative ideas and best practices; creating a campus by design, not by default. 

Financing & Fundraising

How will Durham Academy fund DA Campus Plan construction projects?

The need for the Upper School STEM & Humanities Center was so urgent that in April 2016 the Board approved a construction and financing plan that allowed the school to start building ahead of a campaign. This financing plan combines leveraging debt with philanthropic giving and is the same approach used in 2000 to build the Preschool and Lower School. There is $23 million in bond financing committed for the DA Campus Plan.

When will the capital campaign begin?

A comprehensive, public capital campaign is being planned, with solicitations currently taking place at the leadership level. It will be the largest, most ambitious campaign ever undertaken by the school. In 2018, the Board of Trustees conducted a feasibility study to assess campaign readiness, size and scope. The hope is that, in addition to the Upper School STEM & Humanities building, this campaign will provide enough funding to support the entire proposed Middle School Master Plan. The feasibility study tested a total proposed goal of $25-$27 million.

Can I see what the overall financing plan looks like?


About Cannon Architects

Durham Academy is working with award-winning Cannon Architects, a firm with a successful history of partnering with DA. Principals Roger and Susan Cannon know the school's culture, community and campuses.

The firm designed the Upper School Learning Commons (completed in 2012) and the renovated and expanded Kirby Gym (completed in 2013), which together transformed the heart of the Upper School. The firm also designed DA's new directional signs (completed in fall 2015).

Cannon led the process of collecting input from faculty, staff, parents, students and trustees throughout the design of the Upper School STEM & Humanities Center. The firm is also leading the Middle School master planning process.The collaboration between DA and Cannon represents a long-standing tradition of ensuring faculty input is an integral part of the process in DA construction projects.

Cannon Architects' attention to and prioritization of client needs and preservation of institutional character earned the firm the 2015 Firm of the Year award from the North Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects. The award is the highest honor AIA North Carolina can bestow on a firm.