If there is a school on the planet that has received as much design attention as Whittle School & Studios, we don’t know of it. When our first campuses open in 2019—in Shenzhen, China and Washington, DC—more than five years of effort will have been invested in their creation.
Designed by renowned architect Renzo Piano, our campuses are inspiring environments for making, sharing, and growing—places where students can pursue their passions and achieve their highest potential.
Our prototype comprises approximately 600,000 square feet: 400,000 for academic purposes and 200,000 for residential space. It provides a panoply of spaces for modern learning, including areas for project-based learning, online learning, labs, global communications, and common areas.
Though the architecture is designed to be flexible—to accommodate each particular site, climate, seismic conditions, and building codes—the core fundamentals of every campus will be the same.
Why? By using a design again and again, we will achieve many benefits. First, most schools build one campus every 40 years or so (if that), and thus learn little from one campus to the next. As we scale to a network of 30+ schools, we will be building campuses every year and can apply the learning from one to another.
Three major features are shared across all of our campuses:
Open and Connected
We have made a priority of connecting and engaging with the surrounding communities at all of our campuses—through parent visits, continuing education, community outreach, and the exhibition of student work. This belief is embodied in our glass facade: during the day, our classrooms are flooded with light, while at night we hope the school becomes a glowing “lantern” for its community.
A Place for Creativity
Our Workshop facilities support our students’ project-based, interdisciplinary work and embody our commitment to hands-on learning. There, students build their capacity for design thinking, bringing their ideas to life through an iterative process of ideation, prototyping, and presentation. Light-years beyond a typical “maker space,” the Workshops are designed for projects that require special tools and instruction, including a wood and metal shop, photography and filmmaking studios, and graphic-design labs.
Built for Learning
Our classrooms are not traditional discrete boxes with desks pointing at the teacher. They are bright, flexible learning environments that can be transformed into Harkness-style seminar rooms and hands-on labs, or even combined for large group projects. And we firmly believe that all spaces can be classrooms—formal and informal workspaces are woven throughout our campus to support activities from individual study to large group exhibits.
Discover our first North American location: Washington, DC
Lear more about our inaugural site in China: Shenzhen