The Shakopee High School addition/renovation project aimed to effectively prepare students for their career while establishing individualized communities to support a growing 3,200 student population. With student growth on track to become one of the largest high schools in the state of Minnesota, Shakopee needed an addition of 355,000 square-feet to double their capacity while retaining the ability to engage students on an individual level. The community supported a unified school focused on career-readiness to maintain both student success and their identity as the Shakopee Sabers.
To establish individual learning environments within a large student body, the client and design team turned to the Academy Leaming Model for curricular and facility redesign. The academy model combines electives and core requirements under one of six broader themes in the following Academies: Engineering & Manufacturing, Science & Technology, Health Sciences, Human Services, Arts & Communications and Business & Entrepreneurship.
Designers leveraged existing spaces while adding to all sides of the building. Academies are dispersed in towers, yet connected by a central commons. The commons traces from the main entry through the fine arts lobby, expanded student commons and activities entrance lobby. The academic towers support flexible learning opportunities with breakout areas near classrooms and unique furniture options. Existing spaces created the starting point for new additions. The existing science department above the shop grounds the "sister academies" of Science & Technology and Engineering & Manufacturing. Knowing that a portion of the Arts & Communications Academy is performance-based, it's in proximity to the existing performance space.
To improve wayfinding and promote an identity, each Academy has its own color palette, logo, Academy Champion and Signature Space including a functional bank, culinary arts lab, robotics lab and hospital simulation lab. Signature spaces promote the individuality of each academy while giving students a group identity.
"The Shakopee High School expansion project is a testament to the hard work that has been done the past several years to transition to an academy model. Students, parents, teachers, business partners, district administration, architects, builders, engineers, and contractors have all been involved in this incredible transformation. The Academies of Shakopee are small learning communities that provide our students with real and relevant experiences to help them prepare for their post-secondary plans. Thanks to the support of our business partners and entire community, we are making a difference in the lives of our students." - Jeff Pawlicki, Shakopee HS Principal