Our Next Move: A Vision for a Unified 6–12 Campus

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Our Next Move: A Vision for a Unified 6–12 Campus

On February 13, 2024, Shady Side Academy announced a vision for a comprehensive master plan that will transform the 423 Fox Chapel Road location into the Academy’s Upper School campus for grades 6–12. 

The proposed projects will build upon Shady Side’s latest series of campus improvements, which include a conversion of Memorial Hall into the Class of 1966 Memorial Hall Library and the Gene Deal Fields, a state-of-the-art outdoor sports complex featuring a multi-use artificial turf field lined for lacrosse, soccer, baseball, softball, and field hockey.

A $15 million personal commitment, the most significant gift in the Academy’s 140-year history, from alumnus and past parent S. Kent Rockwell ’62 and his partner, Pat Babyak, was made in October 2022 to support capital projects included in the campus master plan. Rockwell says, “After seeing all of the good things happening at Shady Side and learning more about the vision for the campus master plan, we were enthusiastic about the opportunity to make a meaningful commitment.” Named for Rockwell, the forthcoming Rockwell Middle School and Rockwell Student Commons will anchor the campus plan.

Rockwell Middle School Main Entrance

The new Rockwell Middle School, a 49,300-square-foot facility designed to offer optimal middle school education, will feature extensive natural lighting, solar panels, and energy-efficient systems. It will house a dedicated library and dining hall tailored to foster a vibrant community spirit. At its core, the Rockwell Middle School is designed to nurture collaboration and interdisciplinary instruction through its state-of-the-art learning arenas, multifunctional spaces, and adaptable classrooms. Furthermore, it will provide Shady Side Academy Middle School students unparalleled access to the exceptional facilities of the Upper School Campus, ensuring a seamless and enriched educational journey. 

The 19,000-square-foot Rockwell Student Commons will feature a dining and large-scale event space, student lounge, and other amenities that will cultivate community relationships among Senior School day and boarding students. The college-like commons will also provide new collaborative spaces, both indoors and outdoors, for student gatherings and meetings, as well as a renovated school store.

“In 2024 and beyond, school spaces need to be so much more than efficient places for adults to transfer information to students,” says Shady Side Academy President Bart Griffith ’93. “These new spaces prioritize student engagement, flexible use, and community building as design principles and will provide students with abundant opportunity to connect with teachers and classmates—both indoors and outdoors. Students in grades 6 through 12 will have access to a range of campus facilities, resources, and peer leadership opportunities unparalleled in Western Pennsylvania.”

The plan includes both new buildings and smart, adaptive repurposing of underutilized spaces. The campus transformation will include the renovation of sections of Bayard and Croft Houses to provide additional classroom and teacher workspaces, and a new West Gate entrance and access road off Riding Meadow Road on the western side of campus, which will improve accessibility and ease congestion on Fox Chapel Road.

Rockwell Middle School Bird's-Eye View

“Each of these spaces is meant to elevate the faculty so they have the requisite stage to bring their crafts to light,” says Robert Mullin ’93, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “We build buildings and make changes to campuses to honor the faculty and ensure they have the physical resources they need now and in the future.”

The campus planning process began in 2020 when academy leaders—including trustees, administrators, and a dedicated cohort of teachers—partnered with architecture and campus planning firms Strada Design and DMZ Planning to embark on a multi-year design process for the Middle and Senior Schools that included extensive research, data collection, analysis, and visioning. Notably, the early process included important conversations about a proposed relocation of the Middle School and the range of positive impacts the move would have on student experience and campus life.

For more information about Shady Side Academy’s campus master plan and individual projects, please visit shadysideacademy.org/ournextmove.

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