PSD New Prototype High Schools

Poudre School District (PSD) is currently undertaking an ambitious project to design and construct two new high schools simultaneously, on new sites for two rapidly growing communities. Both schools—one to be built in Wellington and one along the western edge of Timnath—are designed as a prototype for 1,500 students each with a planned addition that will expand each school’s capacity for 1,800 students in the future. Upon opening, each facility will serve both middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12) programs until the District’s enrollment numbers justify new middle schools. 

Several key ideas have emerged throughout the design process:

  • A wider variety of learning spaces would be designed to allow students to work in more varied groupings.
  • Greater flexibility for spaces to change over time would be important as the school transitioned from MS/HS uses to HS only. This concept would also enable the building to be longer-lasting as educational delivery methods also shift over time.
  • Greater transparency would be included throughout the buildings.
  • The building would foster a strong connection to the surrounding natural world.
  • Students would own educational spaces, not teachers: teachers would office in teacher collaboration areas, increasing space utilization and opportunities for teacher interactions.

More details on the new schools from PSD can be found here.


LOCATION: Wellington/Timnath, CO
CLIENT: Poudre School District
SCOPE: 250,000 SF Each
COST: $120-$125 Million
COMPLETED: 2021/2022

The schools are designed to be comprehensive high schools without specialized areas of study nor specific delivery models (such as Career and Technical Education, STEM, or International Baccalaureate). Early in the process, the Building’s Concept Statement arose as, “Connected to Nature.” This concept is represented most evidently by the school’s 36,000-square-foot Outdoor ‘Learning Park’ that anchors the building and serves as a central focal point of the school. Additionally, through the use of narrow building floor plates, no occupants throughout the building would ever be far from views or access to a secure, pristine, outdoor natural area. This design encourages a connection between building occupants and nature. An equally important and concurrent theme that the design team explored was the concept of “Two Hands,” wherein the metaphoric ‘hands’ (academic cores) flank the Outdoor Learning Park and represent the middle school and high school programs, symbolizing how these two programs relate to one other around the “Connected to Nature” Design Concept.

The schools are designed to support integrated curriculum between the middle and high school grade levels. A variety of student and teacher collaboration spaces, with an emphasis on transparency, will encourage collaboration and accommodate supervision. Technology enhancements support a modern, innovative learning environment and multiple sizes of learning spaces encourage a range of activity.

The school is much more open than a traditional building and has an open media center. A learning stair is located in the commons and a new, flexible theater concept was explored. The theater was designed to function as a more multi-purpose space without fixed components so that it can be used for a wider variety of purposes. The stage and theater itself are all located on one level, with all-retractable seating so the space can accommodate a variety of uses when not hosting performances.

The schools are scheduled to be complete at the end of 2021 and middle of 2022, respectively.