Our goal was to have one school, on one campus, where curriculum seamlessly connects from grade to grade and stage to stage, and philosophy and practice benefit hugely from interaction among teachers, parents and students.
We are proud to have invested in the best and the brightest in school design as we've charted this course. We enlisted the help of an outstanding team to help design and build our new school. Fielding Nair Architects, our primary design consultants, coordinated with local architectural firm DTW and landscape architects Coulter, Jewel and Thames. Fielding Nair, world renowned at designing project-based, child-centered environments, was shocked upon introduction to Duke School—first, in a good way, at the incredible caliber of our program – but equally so at the degree to which our facilities did not measure up to program standards.
Our architects fully believed, and we agree, that our facilities should themselves become an extension of our program philosophy – that our school can be a place that fosters a sense of discovery within and beyond the classroom and accommodates the various ways children explore their worlds as individuals and in groups. Well-lit open areas connect with niches for study and social interaction. Spaces were designed and scaled for project-based learning, unlike the traditional same-sized classrooms that are counter to interdisciplinary, exploratory, and collaborative learning. Learning takes place indoors and outdoors; the school itself becomes the living textbook, and our children are educated in a place living its values instead of preaching them. Even the buildings themselves reflect those values—they don't stand as imposing monuments to self-aggrandizement. They are child-appropriate, low dwelling communities that intertwine with one another and are integrated with the land on which they sit, to welcome parents, teachers and, most importantly, children into a community of learning and respect.
The buildings were deliberately and carefully designed to harmonize with the Duke School program and philosophy. They were also structured to accommodate our growing technology needs surrounding curriculum and administrative functions. We were committed to following sustainability and green building best practices; what better way to “walk our philosophical talk” than to let our buildings themselves stand as a testament to our environmental principles.