American School in Japan

HS Courtyard

American School in Japan

Cropped Mt Fuji Aerial

Hindered by aging facilities and a fragmented campus, the new American School in Japan Master Plan realizes the fluid learning environment ASIJ envisions for its future.

Picture a learning environment that flows like a river. A place where a child feels a dynamic sense of growth and change from moment to moment, year to year, grade to grade. A place where they are supported and celebrated as they follow their individual journey, but where they also feel a part of a greater force – a community that, like a river, is formed by its environment but also shapes the world around it. A community that moves, grows, and changes – together. We are creating a transformational educational environment that is every bit as powerful as the river that inspires it. That is the River of Learning.

Alex O’Briant
ASIJ phasing2

The logical challenges posed by adapting a pre-existing, operational campus require innovation design solutions that at once overcome the site’s limitations and realize the school’s pedagogical mission. This proposed master plan is fabricated to accommodate a phased building model, allowing for minimal interference to learning throughout the construction process. This is accomplished by replacing all but two existing buildings and reorganizing academic and athletic facilities into discrete neighborhoods.

The plan was developed through deep engagement with the entire ASIJ community. Intensive work sessions with students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, board members, and senior leadership allowed the project team to develop a planning vision that was deeply rooted in the needs and desires of all stakeholders. Even the River of Learning concept was derived from these conversations, when an enthusiastic fourth grader stated in one session that he thought there should be more water on campus, and maybe we could create a river through it.

ES Courtyard

Flowing its way through the campus’ landscape, the building winds its way around the site’s disjointed outdoor space, inviting these existing green spaces into the proposed campus framework and echoing the verdant location of its neighboring Nogowa Park.

Tea House

To recapture the athletic field lost to the new high school in Phase 1, a state-of the-art athletics complex is tucked underneath a new secondary playing field that has been lifted five meters in the air to make room for the pool and gymnasium below. As a result, the gymnasium has access to daylight while stacking makes use of the limited site space and accommodates the phased building process. Such innovative creates a new identity for athletics on campus, separating it from academics while connecting it to the campus green. Throughout the process, no portion of the student body will ever be relocated to accommodate construction, making the design feasible for an operational academic institution.

The building’s design offers ASIJ the flexibility to mold their facilities overtime, serving the school as it grows and adapts its scholastic philosophy. Ennead’s plan thinks beyond ASIJ’s current academic pedagogy, designing an open, interconnected campus that can adapt to best serve the world’s future citizens, and maintain ASIJ’s position as a leader of American-style preparatory education abroad.

Underscoring ASIJ’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development goals, the master plan proposes a robust toolkit of solutions intended to make a sustainable and resilient campus. In the site, the design seeks to improve biodiversity, naturally manage stormwater runoff, and connect the campus community to the natural world. Use of heavy timber structural systems and wood façade elements will reduce the carbon footprint while better integrating the campus into the leafy setting of adjacent Nogawa Park. Ample high-performance glazing augmented with orientation-specific solar shading will maximize daylight and views while minimizing heat gain. Rooftop plantings and photovoltaic arrays will limit reliance on the city electrical grid and reduce heat-island effect. And the persistent visibility of sustainable design, coupled with interpretive elements such as signage and digital dashboards, will enhance the mission to help students to become stewards of their environment.

Sustainability Axon


Tokyo, Japan
561,000 GSF
Classrooms, Break Out Spaces, Gymnasium, Aquatics Center, Athletics Field, Performing Arts, Cafeteria, Administration Offices, Facilities


Ennead 团队
Don Weinreich, Alex O'Briant, Minh Tran, Anders Evenson, Xinyue Liu, Ingrid Evenson, Todd Van Varick