Arts Wing, libraries, and Main Campus restoration

Why do we need a new Arts Wing?

The impetus for new arts spaces has been building among the Lab community for years, if not decades. Lab’s visual and performing arts spaces have been woefully inadequate—almost all were originally designed for other purposes. Consequently, they do not provide the proper lighting, acoustics, access to water, and configuration of space to support our students’ interests and needs.

In order to provide our students and faculty with the arts spaces they deserve—and to bring Lab in line with peer institutions—we need to build a structure dedicated to our programs.

Where will the new Arts Wing be located? What will it include?

The Arts Wing will be a three-story complex on the footprint of what is currently the ground floor of Belfield Hall between the two Belfield towers. It will include a lobby/art gallery, a 700-seat assembly and musical performance auditorium, a 250-seat theater, a 150-seat drama studio, four art studios, and a digital media/photography lab, as well as large music rehearsal spaces for band, orchestra, and choir; break out large and small practice rooms; a scene shop for theater; a costume shop; and all affiliated administrative spaces.

How will libraries be enhanced?

Lower School: an enlarged library will house up to 18,000 volumes and serve as a core community space for some of our youngest readers. It will include an attached classroom, story-telling space, circulation and reference desks, formal and informal reading areas, and a computer reference area.

High School: Judd 207, the original Department of Education Library, will be renovated to serve as the main corridor of the new High School library. It will house more than 35,000 volumes, formal and informal reading areas, a classroom, a computer room, a professional library for faculty, and a special collections room for rare and archival materials that will be temperature and humidity controlled. It will also include two small conference rooms, circulation and reference desks, and A/V support space.

Middle School: The historic Rowley Library will be fully devoted to the Middle School library, thus giving grades 6–8 their own dedicated space for reading and study.

What will we do with the cafeteria? Will my young child finally get to eat in a cafeteria?

As is the case now, students in grades 6–12 will be able to eat in the cafeteria, and the new dining hall promises to be a marked improvement over the space currently in the lower level of U-High. New kitchen and dining space and improved layout will allow for more—and more diverse—dining alternatives, as well as a more appealing setting in which to eat and socialize.

Children in grades N–5 will continue the Schools’ longstanding tradition of eating lunch with their peers in the classroom. Grounded strongly in the Deweyian philosophy that children learn through day-to-day activities, sharing a meal with peers in a familiar space simplifies the home-to-school transition for the youngest children and helps all develop their “emotional regulation” (i.e., managing emotions and living and socializing productively with others). Teachers use these teaching moments regularly as they supervise and participate in mealtime. 

Will there be new spaces for faculty?

The current plans call for many new faculty spaces. In additional to a professional library to support teachers, there will be new office and meeting spaces and new departmental offices for most every division. 

Why doesn’t the plan include a new swimming pool?

A natatorium—an extremely expensive proposition—was simply not something the Schools or the University felt should be tackled (or could be funded) at this time. The University’s new Ratner Athletics Center has benefited our high school swim team, which uses these state-of-the-art facilities regularly. 

Why can’t we build a garage?

With above-ground space unavailable, the only option would be to build an underground garage. The estimated cost of underground parking was put at $60,000/space—a price tag that made it both untenable and irresponsible to pursue.