As we head into the final week of 2021 in this anniversary school year, I wanted to take a few moments to look to the future. This year we reinvented our Lower School–Early Childhood STEAM Lab, to offer an expanded range of experiences for our students at 74th Street for years to come. Next summer will bring an important and exciting transformation of our learning spaces in our 81st Street building. This phase of the work – focused primarily on our Upper School classroom and lounge spaces – is being supported by project funding included in a recent refinancing of the school's debt.
Calhoun's Upper School enrollment has grown by 47% over the past decade, putting significant strain on our facilities. Since May, we have been working with Verona Carpenter Architects (VCA) to create a new vision for our main Upper School areas on the 4th and 7th floors of Big Calhoun, with the aim of improving seating, lighting, acoustics, ventilation and traffic flow and creating more modern, effective teaching and lounge spaces.
The images included here portray preliminary visions for the classroom areas and the elevator landing on the 4th floor. The locker area by the elevator will be transformed into a student lounge. While retaining our open floor plan, our teachers will gain more control over lighting, acoustics and furniture layout in classroom areas. We will also be reconfiguring bathrooms on that floor and adding some "booths" to facilitate private meetings or collaborations.
On the 7th floor, we are reconfiguring the floor plan to create a third US laboratory, and to reequip all the labs on that floor, including the MS lab. We will also be redesigning the central area on the 7th floor to allow it to function better as a classroom space.
These are exciting changes that will substantially enhance the experience of Upper School students and teachers. Planning is well underway to complete the work this summer – even with the significant challenges posed by supply chain disruptions and delays. In subsequent phases, we will use this as a template to upgrade and enhance teaching and lounge areas on other floors and in other divisions.
As we continue to celebrate Calhoun's 125th year, it is thrilling to already be laying the groundwork for the next 125. Calhoun has always been a home for pedagogical innovation, and these new spaces in our 81st Street home honor the pathbreaking spirit of that building while providing state of the art environments for our teachers and students. I can't wait for you to see them next fall.