Upper School Stem & Humanities Center

In order to not just preserve but improve the student experience, Durham Academy addressed its most immediate need first — two rapidly aging, outdated Upper School buildings that impeded DA's standard of excellence for programming.

Extensive input from Upper School faculty, staff, parents and students produced a plan to replace the current science and physics buildings with a two-story, 46,000-square-foot STEM & Humanities Center. 

The Upper School STEM & Humanities Center represents phases one and two of the Durham Academy Campus Plan. It serves as the academic hub for the Upper School, housing English, history, math, science and robotics. This innovative space:

Provides state-of-the-art learning environments for DA students

Increases the amount of flexible learning space and collaboration between teachers, students and disciplines 

Unites DA's STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), English and history programs

Better prepares our students for 21st century careers


  • Creates innovative, spacious, safe learning environments specifically designed for current and future needs 
  • Adds 8,000+ sq. ft. of space with academic and social benefits
  • Brings academic disciplines together and fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration
  • Allows the Upper School to grow enrollment while preserving small class size
  • Completes Upper School master plan and provides campus-wide accessibility

“We need to offer [STEM] classes that will better prepare students for those fields and expose them to STEM career paths earlier, and you need space to do that. I came to Durham Academy because of the opportunity to really help build this program. I’ve taught middle school, high school and college-level engineering. At DA we can provide a place that models what is going on at the college, university and industry level. This building makes a STEM career path accessible to all students and inspires them to pursue that path.” 

— Leyf Peirce Starling ’99, Upper School physics/robotics teacher





  • Creates state-of-the-art science, technology, engineering, math and robotics facilities to support cutting-edge teaching and learning
  • Supports student demand for sciences with additional, larger classrooms that facilitate group work
  • Solves spatial and safety challenges


“We’re all really excited — the way that it’s designed is really intuitive. Everything is so spacious, and it’s the ideal place for collaboration. Before, we often had trouble fitting everyone inside our small robotics classroom and we could only have a certain number of hot plates on in the chemistry lab before the fuse would blow. Now, we don’t have any limitations and we can focus on learning. It’s so exciting that the incoming ninth-graders will be able to experience this for all four years, and the current Middle School and Lower School students can look forward to having an amazing space to take their classes.” 

— Victoria Lawton ’20




  • Increases flexible, collaborative learning space — a mix of larger classrooms with smaller, seminar space and private work/study areas 
  • Establishes interchangeable classrooms and shared departmental offices to improve faculty cohesion, curricular collaboration and continuity
  • Creates additional two-story commons with built-in opportunities for student-teacher interactions, or where entire grade levels can meet

“Seminar rooms are going to be wonderful for English classes. Having a space that suggests this is a small class, it’s discussion-based and we’re all going to be at this table and do this intellectual work together is awesome.” 

— Harry Thomas, Upper School English teacher

“[Shared departmental offices] are so very collaborative and productive and fun. I could go days or even weeks without seeing one of my colleagues, and now we’ll talk every day about history, but also lesson plans, assessments or situations with students.” 

— Rob Policelli, Upper School history teacher




  • Creates multi-use amphitheater with stepped seating and open pavilion for recreation, outdoor performances, dining or gathering as a team/advisory group
  • Provides better balance of indoor/outdoor space as Upper School enrollment grows closer to optimal size
  • Accentuates natural views by opening campus to athletic fields

“The amphitheater looks to be a multipurpose way for the community to grow. The possibilities are endless — In The Pocket shows, XIV Hours impromptu performances, transformative space to do work, etc.” 

— Yaakov Huba ’19

“My favorite part of our campus is and has always been the fact that it's outdoors. I think this new pavilion will provide a great balance with the construction of the new STEM building, and become another space of community gathering — our ‘cafeteria.’” 

— Lana Kalfas ’19



An independent, coeducational day school,  pre-kindergarten through grade 12.
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