The International School of Denver’s newest academic facility, The Mary Louise Evans Building, recently celebrated its grand opening. Designed by Venture Architecture, in close coordination with the school’s community, the new 40,000-square-foot facility will serve as a hub for the entire ISDenver community, providing a new learning center as well as a Music, Art, Science, and Maker’s Lab, and an array of faculty and parent volunteer spaces.
The new facility, located in Denver’s Lowry neighborhood, is the first step in a long-term campus master plan set in motion five years ago. Project funding was partially sourced through donations, which will ultimately total about $5 million.
“Completing this design for ISDenver was particularly meaningful for our team because of how closely we were able to work with faculty and parents, which led us to the amazing quality of the spaces that are opening today,” said Martin Goldstein, principal of Venture Architecture. “Their transparency and commitment to the students and their programming was incredible. That provided the clarity we needed to design architecture that attentively reflects and supports the school’s best vision for its future.”
ISDenver is an inclusive multicultural, multilingual International Baccalaureate World School offering an inquiry-based approach to dual-immersion teaching. The school touts world-class academics, with an immersive culture and community in the heart of Denver. Students in preschool through 8th grade receive a broad and balanced curriculum in Chinese, French, and Spanish target languages, solidified by a strong English foundation that increases through Middle School.
Now in its 42nd year, ISDenver saw a need to update its existing infrastructure to reflect the physical and pedagogical growth of the school. They engaged Venture’s experienced K-12, Independent School Design Team to help. The goal was to create a building to serve the whole community, unite grade-level peers, create new learning spaces, and foster increased faculty collaboration. This can be seen with the variety of interconnected teaming spaces, from the grade-level collaboration hallways through the carefully crafted classrooms to the professional development spaces for faculty.
To achieve this, Venture’s team engaged in an extensive discovery process, meeting at the school with teachers and parents during more than thirty open forums to understand how the school used current space for teaching and learning and to explore new space designs that might better meet their goals.
Through this process, Venture’s design team honed in on the school’s project-based learning styles and ultimately utilized an age-appropriate approach to educational workplace strategies and adapted research available to other design sectors. The resulting academic building blends a variety of flexible learning spaces that support the school’s project-based teaching, learning, and collaborating model.
“Everything we do is in service of creating the best environment possible for our students and faculty, so we knew we had to find precisely the right architects and designers to help us build a truly student-centered, teacher-designed Middle School,” said Bob Carignan, head of school at ISDenver. “Venture’s in-depth, collaborative, and committed approach to our community strongly aligned with our school values. From the beginning of their engagement, their team focused on learning what matters most to ISDenver. Our school’s parents and faculty also rose to the challenge in support of this project with their time, input, and donations. The result is that every aspect of our new academic building is purposeful, tailored to our community, and designed to serve our learners for decades to come.”
Fransen & Pittman served as the general contractor on this project and Anser Project Management led the project management.
“Fransen & Pittman and Anser Project Management were brought on board and instantly became deeply valuable partners,” added Goldstein. “They were great teammates to the end. Even more so than with most projects, this was an incredible team effort and we are all so proud of the result.”
Photos courtesy of Venture Architecture