Spiezle’s Work at Black Rock Middle School Recognized in Two Design Showcases

We are excited to announce that our work at Black Rock Middle School for the Lower Merion School District has received an Outstanding Design Award with American School and University’s 2023 Educational Interiors Showcase and has also been recognized with an Honorable Mention as a K-12 New Construction project for the Spaces4Learing Education Design Showcase.  The Outstanding Design Award is given to educational construction projects that demonstrate innovation and unique designs inside school buildings while Spaces4Learning developed the Education Design Showcase awards to spotlight innovative and practical planning, design, architecture, and construction solutions.

Spiezle and Fielding International approached the design of the Black Rock Middle School as an opportunity to realize a flexible, engaging, 21st Century learning environment that expanded on the district’s already forward looking  strategic plan.

The grade 5-8 Middle School, located near Philadelphia, PA, opened in 2022. Our design team facilitated a broad range of workshops with Lower Merion School District officials, teachers and students to creatively envision an entirely new range of educational opportunities for the district’s third middle school.

Delivering a diversity of educational environments, connectivity, and engagement opportunities, the 215,000 SF building is centered around a two-story “heart” space with a gathering stair that opens onto an educational courtyard overlooked by the media center.  A series of smaller, collaborative, learning communities provide diverse, flexible spaces for teachers and groups of students to engage with learning. Specialized spaces facilitate learning opportunities through indoor-outdoor physical education, technology and career education, and the arts including a contemporary theater designed to be adaptive to assembly, dance, yoga, or table top activities, providing an innovative learning experience for up to 1,200 students.

“Designing modern educational spaces that create the opportunities for students and teachers to engage with each other and learn in personal and collaborative ways is an imperative in our design process. Through collaboration with clients, we envision innovative features to enhance learning and encourage community building,” said Scott Downie, Principal at Spiezle and Principal-in-Charge of the project. “Natural lighting brings freshness and brightness to spaces throughout and space optimized through the selection of furniture that enables teamwork, provides comfortable settings, and is adaptable as needed. We are proud to positively impact the future generations and elevate their learning experiences through creative design.”

The main dining space includes interior and courtyard seating options, providing increased activity space and the ability to engage with the outdoors during warmer and shoulder months. Breakout and smaller nest-type areas enable students to engage in a more intimate studying environment alongside more expansive spaces, providing easy flow and dynamic learning opportunities.

The diversity of space in this learning environment helps learners engage in ways that work for them with less stress, and encourages academic pursuits in different ways. Students can work together or independently in large or intimate spaces. Additionally, connecting with outdoor areas provides an added dimension of variety within the learning setting and helps promote relaxation and connection with nature.

“Students require flexibility and thoughtful innovation in the construction of educational space, and our design team is proud to be part of realizing such an  important effort,” added  Downie.


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