The Westminster Schools, Barge Commons
Addressing the school’s goal to create a welcoming campus front door, this new facility provides a gateway to the campus, housing a range of programs that bring students, faculty, and community leaders together under one roof.
Situated at the main entrance to the Upper School Campus, Barge Commons acts as a gateway to the historic grounds, and architecturally mitigates a 14-foot grade change between the entrance road and the main campus quadrangle.
The building is designed as a convening facility, a place where local, national, and global not-for-profit organizations are welcomed to utilize as a conference center—without charge—in exchange for providing leadership seminars and lectures to the student body. The project houses six general purpose classrooms to allow classes to be held synchronously with conferencing events, thus generating spontaneous and productive collisions between students, and established public-interest thought-leaders.
The central feature of the project is two large-scale gathering areas, one at the lower-level, and one at the level of the main quadrangle, that act as hubs to all other programmatic elements. These rooms are designed to be constantly changing and easily “flippable” to support varied activities and to foster intellectual exchange between this cohort that does not commonly intermingle. The project puts leadership on display and presents novel and engaging educational opportunities to Westminster’s students.
The facility is complimented by other “outwardly facing” programs forming an ecosystem of mutual purpose. These include: the admissions office, the Office of Advancement (donor development), the Glenn Institute (community service), Odyssey (support for disadvantage local students), the Center for Teaching (an institute to advance teaching skills), a chapel, an art gallery, a cafe, and a campus “spirit” store.
The Westminster campus is dominated by formal, Neo-Georgian buildings erected from the 1950s through the late 1960’s, with a palate of brick and limestone. The design of Barge Commons is a vibrant aesthetic dialogue with the past—utilizing the familiar campus materials—but presenting a thoroughly contemporary vision of the institution’s ideals and aspirations.
Barge Commons is a key component of Ennead’s Master Plan for The Westminster Schools.
- Atlanta, GA
- 48,770 GSF
- Classrooms, offices, atrium, multi-purpose room, conference space, art gallery, chapel, café, and spirit store
- Ennead Design Team
Tomas Rossant, Molly McGowan, Todd Van Varick, M. Gregory Clawson, Minh Tran, Billy Erhard, Gary Anderson, Edward Chang, Luccas Dias, Eileen Dirks, Janice Leong, Mariel Mora Llorens, David Monnar, Nikita Payusov, Karl Pops, Mat Strack, Trevor Hollyn Taub, Ursula Trost