Upper Merion Area High School, Upper Merion Area School District
After a full community-engaged master planning process and subsequent successful new elementary school projects, Upper Merion Area School District (UMASD) began the process of creating a flagship facility to house the upper secondary programs for the District. A thorough process was utilized, including multiple user meetings and tours of state-of-the-art facilities throughout the United States.
The intent behind the facility is to provide career and higher education level spaces for the students of UMASD to engage in the 21st century learning activities of “research, develop and present!” Multiple hi-tech industry work spaces as well as contemporary higher education spaces were studied in the process of the development of this unique facility.
The proposed 345,000 SF facility will be connected to the existing middle school through the athletic facilities to provide a full secondary campus. The resulting facility will provide enriching opportunities for students from the traditional 6th grade through 12th grade ages.
A true “student commons” is the heart of the facility and will be an “all-day” area for multiple activities. The commons is a two-story open space with learning resources located on the second level to enhance the research and project-based components mixed with dining and food-based opportunities. After hours, the “commons” space will provide pre- and post-activity support for both the athletic as well as the performing arts complexes. A full competition gymnasium and competition swimming venue will be the connector to the middle school. The performing arts complex provides a complete 650-seat theater with balcony and all supporting performing arts spaces.
Student services, technology distribution, and support spaces are located between the commons space and the academic area. A three-story academic wing supports the core academic programs with a STEAM based center, multiple project and team-based spaces, and a three-story learning stair. The learning stair connects all core programs vertically to enhance the cross-pollination of learning activities. Transparency is a key aspect of the facility’s design and is utilized to promote the visual connection between each of the learning activities.
The new facility was constructed while the existing high school on site was still occupied. Next, the existing facility will be demolished and new playing fields will be constructed in its place. A unique site feature is an underground stream bisecting the site. The project chooses to highlight that challenge by exposing the stream at its outfall within a new outdoor amphitheater and teaching area. This outdoor space enhances internal building program opportunities by connecting them to the exterior. The stream provides for science-based learning activities directly on campus. The new facility allows the students of UMASD to have additional tremendous learning opportunities.
Size in SF
Year of Completion
- Outstanding Project | Learning by Design Fall 2022 Architectural and Interior Design Awards of Excellence
- Outstanding Project | American School & University 2022 Architectural Portfolio