The Bachmann Collaboration Building is one of the most significant changes to Prep’s campus in over a decade. The building is the final piece in Prep’s campus Master Plan, which saw the enclosure of the Atrium and the installation of field lights on Memorial Athletic Field. Funded by the historic Enrich, Inspire, Ignite! campaign that raised $30 million-plus, the building is a source of unity for the entire Prep community in support of collaborative learning. This building will be a creative hub of ideas and projects for generations of Prep students.
The three-story building, at the north end of campus overlooking Memorial Field, was underway last March as COVID-19 hit. Construction, deemed essential, continued as it could, amid a dearth of materials caused by manufacturing and shipping delays. Last fall, as a few teachers and Prep’s expanded tech staff moved into their new spaces within the building, the finishing touches were put in place, and now it’s ready for its closeup.
Housing Prep’s curricular initiatives in STEAM, Global Studies, and Leadership, the $14.2 million building was designed with input from teachers and administrators to promote deep learning for students, inspire cross-pollination of ideas, projects, and experiments, and nurture creative problem solving.
“I always think about architecture as an extension of our teaching environments,” says Head of School Jim Pickett, who is excited by a building created for the express purpose of fostering collaboration, which he terms “the third teacher” in the classroom. “When I think about STEAM, Global Studies, and Leadership as three major ideas that are driving the purposes of the building, it becomes a place where, when people want to do that kind of work, the space is already set up to do that,” Pickett says.
The ground floor is home to STEAM, complete with Prep’s makerspace, art studio, and a science classroom and lab. Global Studies occupies the second floor, with classrooms that are reconfigurable for lectures and events, and seminar rooms equipped with video conferencing technology for conversations with experts and peers around the world. (The Technology Department also has their offices in the Global Studies wing.) The third floor houses the Leadership program, where seminar rooms and meeting spaces will host Student Senate, FLINT, peer counseling groups, and other leadership activities.
A dramatic staircase connects all three floors and bathes the building in natural light. Classroom spaces have expansive windows and common areas are perfect meeting spots for collaboration, with quiet nooks for contemplation.
Bachmann Collaboration Building Slideshow:
Modern in design, the 17,500-square-foot building tucks into the hillside and was made with sustainability and nature in mind. Permeable surfaces surround it, with one side flanked by a naturally landscaped “dry waterfall.” Ceramics teacher Biliana Popova created pots for plants that signal the transition from natural to architectural. The third-floor terrace provides expansive views, and motorized bi-fold glass doors in the first-floor makerspace and art studio open out for airflow and to easily move large equipment or artwork. A muted palette of blue and silver matches the rest of the campus, and the ceiling of slatted natural wood recalls the newly enclosed Atrium and recently revamped Norris Auditorium.
Even with just a few faculty teaching now, the Bachmann Collaboration Building hums with creativity and promise.
- Makerspace Coordinator Erin Thomassen leads her Design Thinking 7th graders through projects using the laser cutter, 3D printer, and embroidery machine, while also supporting the robotics team and students working on their science experiments or personal projects.
- Next door in the art studio is drawing and painting teacher Melissa Manfull. Manfull has multiple cameras set up over her workspace to provide various perspectives for her students who are learning and creating at home with the extensive kits she curated to support their lessons.
- Math teacher Beth Pattinelli, who frequently collaborates with Manfull on STEAM projects like geometric mobiles and pendulum paintings, is currently teaching from the second floor.
- Global Studies Coordinator Ingrid Herskind is teaching her classes in the Global Research Lab, while also hosting seminars with expert panelists and brainstorming sessions with faculty for the Global Studies Think Tank.
- Assistant Head for Academic Life Sarah Cooper teaches 8th grade history from the building that she helped envision.
Cooper admits making detours on the freeway at night just to admire the building’s lights that “shine out onto campus like a beacon.” She’s looking forward to “new ideas and new intersections between people, between disciplines, that we haven’t really had in one space before,” Cooper says. “Students will be able to think in bigger ways.”
Assistant Head for Student Life Vanessa Walker-Oakes concurs. “The Bachmann Collaboration Building will foster dreams and ideas that we can't possibly foresee,” she says, “because students are the creative force that drives this institution. It’s going to allow students to really problem-solve about the issues that they, and the world, are facing.”
Echoing Cooper and Walker-Oakes, Pickett spotlights the way in which the building will bring people together to create new paths and experiment with new ideas.
“When we think about effectively solving difficult problems in the world, we're not going to do that individually. The notion of the person sitting alone in a room, suddenly figuring out how everything works and making it happen, doesn't really work. Collaboration brings voices together in a solution-oriented approach that does exactly what we want to do as a society. We want to bring people together to move all of us forward,” Pickett says. “It's collaboration, it's partnership, it's engagement. These things are critical to our society. And they are the foundations upon which this building has been built.”