HMFH Architects

The Roeper School
Learning Commons

Birmingham, MI

The expansion of the Roeper School’s upper campus in Birmingham, MI, presented an opportunity to create places for academic and social interaction that better serve the needs of the school’s middle and high school students. HMFH transformed the existing central courtyard into a new commons with a student dining area, flexible group and individual workspaces, and integration of evolving technology.

We designed this area as the center of the school so students and staff can all interact with each other both purposefully and accidentally. Architecturally, this is closer to the way we teach.

David Feldman Head of School
  • Grades 6-12
  • Students 360
  • Size 10,000 ft2

The design helps students transition from the small-scale, cozy, learning pods of the lower school campus to the larger and more formal classroom organization of the upper school. The larger dining and collaboration spaces of the tri-level commons act as the literal and figurative heart of the upper school campus and are used throughout the day as a multi-purpose gathering space and hub for academic and social activities. The third floor mezzanine and repurposed second-floor library provide more contemplative and focused atmospheres, where students can work in small groups, meet one-to-one with teachers, or read in a quiet, sunny spot.

The design resolves several technical challenges, including accommodation of an existing scene shop and boiler room within the courtyard, relocation of building services, and comprehensive accessibility for the multi-story building. Skylights will bring daylight into the core of the space, with interior glazing to enhance the visual connection between the surrounding corridor and the commons.

The characteristics of Roeper include a strong sense of community and an awareness of the outside world. This space reflects that by connecting us with each other and with the outside world. It is beautiful and feels wonderful.

Buck BakerChair, Board of Trustees

On the academic side, conversations don’t stop when kids leave the classroom. Now they have a space to sit and socialize and continue those conversations. That to me is very collegiate

David FeldmanHead of School
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