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A 21st-century upgrade for a 100-year-old school

St. Louis-area high school renovated to allow for more flexible, collaborative spaces
  • The 12 new science labs are found on the third floor of the school’s addition, and were designed for flexibility. Fixed cabinetry is restrained to the outer edges, leaving the center open for collaboration. In this physics lab, benches sit at one end of the room while lecture seating with marker surfaces and a smartboard projector are at the other end. Teachers can also mount overhead structures from the ceiling.
  • New social studies classrooms located on the second floor of the addition have extra space at one end for each teacher to customize based on their needs; for example, as reading areas or group project spaces. Large windows were built to maximize natural light and conserve energy.
  • The undersized boys’ and girls’ tandem practice gyms at Webster Groves High School were demolished, and replaced with a two-level structure. The first level has multi-purpose rooms for physical education and sports training, cheerleading and other active uses; the second level is a competition gym with bleachers and public access for games. The school expanded into an adjacent service alley to create space for the new structure.
  • The intersection of hallways in the new third floor science department is roughly the size of a classroom. In this wide area, teachers set up physics demonstrations and experiments in motion, or allow students to lay out large projects for assembly, create posters or test robotics.

The 100-year-old Webster Groves High School, part of the Webster Groves School District in a St. Louis, Mo. suburb, is an important civic landmark. However, its antiquated infrastructure and classrooms ill-equipped for educational media were preventing administrators from fully implementing 21st-century learning models, including blended learning.

This fall, the school of 1,310 students was renovated to allow for more flexible, collaborative spaces for teachers and students to customize for their individual needs. The design and construction firm Wight & Company created a state-of-the-art, four-story, 106,000 square-foot addition to the school that includes 12 new science labs and classrooms for industrial technology, visual arts, and social studies.