Isabella Bird Community School

Denver, CO

The Isabella Bird Community School was designed as a 21st-Century school embodying the concept of Convergence: of City and nature; past and future; traditional learning and collaborative engagement; stability and change.

The corridor is normally the most dismal part of a school. Applying the concept of Convergence allowed the corridor to transform into of the best parts of the school – a journey through a series of distinct spatial experiences, a place for active collaboration and learning, and an extension of the community and context.

Sited at the end of the former East-West runway of Stapleton Airport, the Isabella Bird Community School is nestled in a narrow peninsula of Denver known for its applied New Urbanism ideals, bordering Aurora to the south and the Bluff Lake Nature Center to the north. The site design facilitates connection to Bluff Lake and draws natural elements into the school wherever possible.
Inside the building, a blue-toned pathway, an homage to Sand Creek, leads through the corridors and down the stairs, drawing the whole school into one experience. Overhead doors and an indoor/outdoor stage make performance a part of the playground. A pair of south-oriented Learning Courtyards offer opportunities for kinetic learning, experimentation, and mess-making as a part of the learning process.

Traditional sustainable technologies, such as passive ventilation and daylighting, are combined in the high clerestory with electrically actuated passive vents. The Isabella Bird Community School represents an extraordinarily bold and sustainable project that is nonetheless executed within the parameters of Denver Public Schools’ requirements for highly durable and proven technologies and materials. It is designed to function as an inspiring place for learning for multiple generations and changing pedagogical concepts
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Site Plan


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Model 1


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Floor Plan
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