Redefining Education

Project Idea

Description: Kent Denver School is an independent middle and high school in Denver, Colorado. There are roughly 300 students in the Middle School and 500 students in the Upper School. My school currently sits on a great deal of land that equates to roughly 200 acres. However, we only utilize a small portion of the land. We currently also don’t have enough classrooms and offices for both the administrations and faculty to provide for an effective learning environment for the Upper School. Also, we currently only have one large social space for students to go and relieve stress alongside their peers. We pride ourselves on providing a small teacher to student ratio that allows for strong student to teacher connections to be made. By adding an additional building to the Upper School, this would provide enough space for each member of the community to effectively learn, work, and socialize. For example, an additional building would include 8 additional offices with 4 classrooms specifically for math and history courses and a large social space for all members of the community. These additions will allow for more teachers to obtain their own private office in which their students can go to during office hours. Also, additional classrooms will remove the issue of having a lack of teaching space. Lastly, by incorporating an additional social space, it will allow for faculty and students across all grade levels to socialize and relax during their busy day. I strongly believe this addition to the Upper School will provide for another amazing contribution to the Kent Denver community.

Student Interview

Site Description

Campus Map

Location: As you can see above, the Upper School is denoted on the map by the numbers 4 through 13. Ideally, I would like to place this additional building on the current Faculty & Visitor Parking lot marked by the red rectangle. This is an ideal location to utilize as it remains near the current Upper School building and would further add to the aesthetic appeal of the entire school as it would be easily visible upon entering the campus. The US Drop Off would separate the two buildings and allow for students to enjoy the outdoors as they utilize the walkway between the buildings.


Additional Information (Part 1): As you can see above, there is an open plot of land near the current Upper School buildings that only includes a parking lot. This plot of land is an ideal location for a new building as it is within reach of the current Upper School and offers enough space to incorporate additional social spaces for students to relieve stress, classrooms, and faculty offices.

Also, the image to the right highlights the approach leading up to the school. I believe an additional building in the target location would be a strong complement to the current campus. As I discuss later, the approach is an important aspect of the architectural design and I believe that placing a sleek, modern design with a brick exterior like the remainder of the campus would be impressive. This location is extremely central in the current campus and is easily accessible from the current Upper School, the Dining Hall, and the Arts Building.


Additional Information (Part 2): As I mentioned earlier, the image to the left depicts the large plot of land that is available in front of the current Upper School for an additional building. This image illustrates the relative space between buildings as well as slope of this area. Since this slope is relatively flat, it would be straightforward to build on top of it.

Also, the image to the right builds on this idea and highlights the relative space between buildings in a more detailed manner. Since I want all members of the community to spend some time outdoors rather than being cooped up in classrooms all day, I thought it would be best to take advantage of the outdoor pathways that connect the buildings. Since these pathways are already in place, there is no additional development required but I thought this visual would be important to include as it showcases how easily accessible this new building would be from the current Upper School as well as the Arts Building.

Inspiration (School)


Preserving the current campus atmosphere: As I brainstormed ideas for this project, I continuously asked myself how I would incorporate a new modern building to the current school’s campus while preserving its longstanding culture. The image on the left is the recently designed LEED Dining Hall and the image on the right is the recently designed Duncan Center / library. These two images have served as inspiration for me as they provide a sense for the direction the school is going with their newly designed and renovated structures. In addition to the site map of the entire school campus, I believe I have received a better understanding for what a renovation or addition to the Upper School should look like. The additional Upper School building should ideally combine a modern design with a traditional style that is similar to the current Kent Denver atmosphere. For example, the current Kent Denver atmosphere is created through the use of brick exteriors and traditional framed windows. I would like to make my design for the final project extremely open, well-lit, have an access point to the outdoors, and promote teamwork and collaboration throughout the student body.

Outside Inspiration

First impressions: Among the 5 Aspects of Architecture, I believe the approach is among the most important. The approach is one’s initial viewpoint of the system which then corresponds to one’s first impression of the system. Whether or not the viewer immediately realize that, this is a critical component. The intended location of the additional building sits along the entrance of the campus and will be one of the first sights of students, faculty, and other members of the community. By using the Taj Mahal as reference, my design hopes to incorporate an impressive approach to the new building that will energize all members of the community at the start of each and every day of the year.

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India has a grand approach.The structure was commissioned by the Mughal emperor for his wife so he wanted it to be extremely special for her and the approach makes it much more special. The Taj Mahal has an approach that consists of a long water feature with symmetrical greenery on both sides. This entrance makes the actual structure itself seem larger and more majestic as the walk up builds up one’s excitement and anticipation. For example, I attended a wending recently in India and the walkup was so extravagant and well-done that I was immediately excited for the entire event. I hope to elicit this same feeling among all who step foot on this campus and see the new addition to the campus.


Both of the above images are from Marysville Getchell High School located in Marysville, Washington. The left image captures the main entrance and the right image captures how different parts of the campus connect to one another. The architect in charge of this project described the importance of creating a “learning community” and I hope to do the same. By focusing on maintaining a culture around the school stylistically, students and faculty feel a sense of commonality and community. I found these images extremely helpful and interesting as they present a sleek and modern approach to a high school campus. I believe my school is also attempting to do so while preserving the culture and history of the school. For example, my school largely has brick exterior that I hope to maintain as it speaks to the current culture instilled in the campus. These images introduced a new perspective to an already active modern design in a school environment that I would like to incorporate in the design of an addition to the Kent Upper School.



The bubble map (left) allows me to visualize the different user needs and functional spaces that need to be addressed through this project. It allows me to illustrate to both myself and you how I hope to combine a large social space with classrooms and offices in an effective manner. The sketch of the social space (right) illustrates specifically the large social space that I hope to incorporate in the additional building. My school currently only has one large social space for students and faculty to relieve stress and I wanted to layout how I hope this new building will benefit the entire student body as well as faculty.


Additional Information: The above three images represent sample sketches and 3D models made to represent my design. The furthest left image is a sample approach to the new structure. As I mentioned in the previous section, the approach is one’s first impression of the entire system which in this case is the Upper School and I believe by revamping this, it would truly energize all members of the community each day. The next two images are of a daylight model made out of paper. This model would better my understanding as well as my ability to illustrate to the clients how sunlight would be accessible to the new learning/socializing environment throughout the entire school day. I want my model to communicate how sunlight will be obtained into the majority of the interior of the building at different times of the day. As I mentioned before, sunlight keeps members of the community motivated and awake and this model illustrates how that will be achieved.

In addition to the daylight model, some other important information to know is about the 8 additional teacher/administrative offices and 4 additional classrooms this building will include. On average, the offices will be a standard 8 x 8 ft. room with a desk and a window to continue promoting the importance of sunlight. These offices would allow for teachers to have their own individual space for themselves as well as for their students to utilize during office hours. On average, the classrooms will be a standard 15 x 15 ft. room with one wall including a window and a door connecting the classroom to the outdoors. In addition, one of the walls perpendicular to this will largely contain a white board and/or SmartBoard.

Other Data:

  • Building will be one story
    • Classrooms and offices will have roughly 10 feet tall ceilings
    • Social space will have higher ceilings (roughly 20 feet tall) to promote free movement, socializing and relaxing
    • Goal: to not obstruct view of mountains from Dining Hall
  • The outside of the building will be largely comprised of red brick
    • Both the social space and the classrooms will also include large glass walls / vertical planes that allow for a lot of light to enter the structure.
  • Multiple entry ways from the entrance of the campus, the current Upper School, the Dining Hall path and the Arts Building
  • Slight resurfacing required due to the unevenness of current surface that partially serves as a parking lot

Call to Action

What do you think is the most important feature of this addition?

Social Space
Teacher Offices
Administrative Offices



Comment below for any feedback. I’d love to hear your thoughts, suggestions, concerns, or even if you just want to tell me about your own school. Thanks so much for coming and don’t forget to click the heart up top!

“Don’t clap too hard – it’s a very old building.” – John Osborne

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