The new college at Kent Denver School is the first of several recent projects undertaken by Denver-based architects Semple Brown as part of the education space transformation. The campus includes a range of new construction and extensive renovations to existing space, totaling over 100,000 square feet. The old spaces were all over 50 years old and had been cobbled together without an overall vision of how the campus should be organized, or how the buildings and grounds could complement and even celebrate the education that Kent Denver School is. able to provide. All associated projects, along with others completed on campus over the past 15 years, have sought to unify and express Kent Denver’s educational goal of “excellence in scholarship and character”, as well as the virtues of ‘Integrity’, ‘Respect’, ‘Wisdom’, ‘Personal Growth’ and ‘Community’.
The project has been certified LEED Platinum by the United States Green Building Council, one of four school projects in the state of Colorado (another of which is the dining hall at Kent Denver School). The building earned this designation through multiple initiatives, including a 94 kW photovoltaic array on the south-facing roof, efficient heating and ventilation systems, including radiant heated floor slab and evaporative cooling, a Incredibly efficient building envelope balanced with exceptional natural lighting and views, and site strategies. who carefully weave the project into its environment.
The 37,000 square foot middle school building and 3 acres of associated site works are designed to create community, as well as engage the specific site and pastoral context of the campus. Located roughly on the site of the old, obsolete Grade 6 building, the new building is close to the student drop-off and parking lot, which remained to serve this and other buildings.
Approaching the main entrance, the building greets visitors with a dramatic cantilevered roof canopy. The raised patio below provides sheltered outdoor gathering space, while low seating walls near the companionway provide opportunities to socialize while waiting to be picked up. The red brick and copper panel walls, which will soon weather to a rich dark bronze color, acknowledge the adjacent older campus buildings to create new family members that feel familiar yet decidedly fresh.
Inside, visitors are greeted by spectacular, framed views across the “Kuntz Commons,” the heart of the building. The Commons hosts daily assemblies for students and staff, but also serves as a vertical and horizontal thoroughfare, small group learning space, and social space for the entire school. The interior palette is largely neutral, helping to highlight the connection to the outdoors, but the relationship to the outdoors is enhanced by generous wood accents throughout. The “sun devil” logo provides interior direction to the Kuntz Commons and further reminder of the school’s community identity.
Classrooms and faculty offices are clustered around shared gathering areas rather than lined up along typical double-loaded hallways. Classrooms can be joined to an adjacent classroom or huddle area to facilitate interdisciplinary teaching or larger classroom environments. Flexible and varied furniture accommodates a range of teaching and learning styles. Shared balconies and patios provide easy opportunities for views, fresh air, and extra learning space.
“The new building elevates, articulates and celebrates community. Our spaces and the way we move between them are now permanent opportunities to connect. There is movement in our building like no other I have ever experienced. Such a movement creates momentum and a vibrant community is a force to be reckoned with. I am thrilled to see how we continue to live in this beautiful space and make it ours,” said Carrie Green, Principal of the college.