Animas High School
Dynamic project-based learning program situates high school students on a college campus in Southwest Colorado.
40,000 SF; 4-acres
Animas High School
Located in Durango, Colorado – a community in the Four Corners region – Animas High School is a free, public charter school rooted in outdoor education and Project Based Learning (PBL). The interdisciplinary curriculum prioritizes authentic engagement, thoughtful inquiry and in-depth analysis over more traditional models. In a unique partnership with Fort Lewis College, the new high school facility is sited on the college campus and perched on the mesa overlooking the valley below. This future-forward educational environment calls for a transparent, dynamic, nimble, and sustainable building design.
Established in 2009, the school has occupied several locations, currently operating out of modular buildings. Animas High School’s educational philosophy and structure is modeled after the High Tech High program in California where many of the staff trained. The community is exceptionally close-knit where staff-to-staff and staff-to-student relationships thrive. Each year faculty-designed projects focus on real-world applications to enhance relevancy, culminating in an exhibition where students present projects.
The new facility is expressive of this dynamic and gracious community forming a nestled neighborhood of articulated structures. Organized in a splayed bar configuration, classrooms and instructional spaces are housed within the bars and creating an organic public zone in the core of the building. Within the public space a network of outcroppings provide moments of respite, pause and socialization. The Student Commons, located at the southern end of the public zone, is a multi-purpose indoor/outdoor space acting as the beating heart of the school. This diverse interior landscape – with active topography, shifting viewsheds and natural light – fosters a school culture that celebrates individualism, independence and innovation.
A diverse interior landscape – with active topography, shifting viewsheds and natural light – fosters a school culture that celebrates individualism, independence and innovation.