Campus Plan: Middle School
“Middle School students ought to have exceptional spaces in which they can grow and thrive. Our programming should meet the unique needs of students, and our facilities should be top-notch and flexible for teachers. Families come to DA expecting academic excellence and a safe, encouraging place where children grow into caring people. Our current facilities make it challenging to provide that. The reimagining of the Middle School allows us to craft learning spaces that allow all children to reach their full potential.”
Jon Meredith, Middle School Director
In 2015, the Academy Road campus celebrated its 50th anniversary as the first home DA built from the ground up. As the school grew, students who were originally housed at Academy Road moved to Ridge Road for Upper School (1973) and for Preschool/Lower School (2002). The Academy Road campus became the Middle School, DA’s oasis for adolescence. Although the campus has been retrofitted over time to accommodate its tween-to-teen population, fundamental shifts in teaching and learning over the last half-century have prompted a comprehensive reimagining of DA’s Middle School. Nearly two years of research and input from teachers, students and architects produced a plan to support the best Middle School faculty and student experience possible in ways that align with DA’s commitment to excellence. The six-year plan involves renovation and new construction to reorient and remake the entire campus, and is being staged to avoid any student displacement. The first phase of the plan, the Arts & World Languages Center, was completed in Spring 2021, and the final phase is scheduled for completion in 2025.
Arts & World Languages Center
Completed Spring 2021 | Phase 3
- All students take fine arts and world language classes in this new state-of-the-art facility.
- Arts and languages classrooms are grouped by discipline to enhance collaboration among teachers and students.
- Horton Hall, a 500-seat performing arts/special events space, solves pressing need for flexible auditorium space with ample seating. All students gather in Horton Hall for assemblies and watch/participate in arts performances there.
- Supports student talent and inspires artistic development with dynamic performance stage, spacious art studios and soundproofed classrooms/rehearsal areas.
- Enables student/faculty collaboration on productions and eases staging of special events.
BEGAN SUMMER 2021 | PHASE 4
Two-Story Math and Science Wing
- New academic building, including math classrooms and science labs
- Middle School academic building similar to Lower School layout, opens to quad
- Increases security with fewer exterior entrances
“Clustering classrooms by discipline with common faculty space will allow teachers to collaborate far more effectively than we can right now because we spend so much time and energy on making do. Close proximity provides the opportunity for spontaneous conversation and efficient planning time teachers need to strengthen and unify our curriculum. At the same time, the design incorporates space for advisories so that students can build strong relationships with a smaller peer group and their faculty advisor. The Middle School campus has benefited from this very thoughtful design process that we have undertaken.”
- Gerty Ward, Middle School assistant director, science teacher
Administration Wing & Campus Entrance
- Establishes clear welcoming center, entryway into the heart of campus
- Reroutes traffic flow with new entrance for safer drop off/pickup
- Creates administrative wing with integrated student support space for deans, learning specialist, counselor and meeting/tutoring rooms
- Encourages visitor check-in with proximity to security
- Provides admissions space for introductory meetings with families
“When DA’s first campus was built in the 1960s, it perfectly accommodated the small ‘village’ that its architect intended it to serve. But as DA added to this campus over time to continue to grow with its students, both the heart of the Middle School and its front door became harder and harder to find. A front door is such an important and welcoming part of any school community — it helps parents and visitors know where to go and find information, it welcomes our students as they start and end their day, and it allows the school to distinguish between guests and our families. This campus redesign will reinvent the segue into the heart of DA’s Middle School.”
- Laura Virkler ’91, parent, trustee, chair of Buildings and Grounds Committee
Renovated Classroom Building
BEGINS SUMMER 2023 | PHASE 5
- Increases available classroom space to accommodate modest growth in enrollment
- Creates modern digital library as accessible academic hub on campus
- English and history classrooms
“I want the new library to be a student-centric space that fosters curiosity, creativity and a love of reading. Students should feel a sense of ownership in their library. A well-designed library extends learning beyond the classroom. A new space can add a mix of collaborative and quiet spaces that meets our students' needs. It can also provide access to the technological tools they require.”
- Jennifer Longee, Middle School librarian
BEGINS SUMMER 2024 | PHASE 6
- Creates new regulation gym with built-in seating to accommodate athletic/special events and fans, provides larger locker rooms
- Adds extra interior space through combined gyms large enough for all PE classes to operate simultaneously
- Expands Extended Day facilities
“A new regulation gym, in addition to the renovation of the current gym, will help grow our athletics program in so many ways. Our basketball teams will be able to practice in their own facility, without time or scheduling restrictions. A new gym with spectator seating will give our Middle School students the ability to compete in a true athletics facility in front of their family, friends and teachers. The new gym, in combination with the renovated gym, doubles the amount of PE space, allowing multiple classes to take place indoors simultaneously. That will allow us to more easily hold PE classes in inclement weather.”
- Andy Pogach, director of athletics, former Middle School PE and math teacher