Campus by Division
In November, the Board of Trustees of The Albany Academies voted unanimously to organize the school by divisions. This decision marks the end of a multiyear exploration of a “Campus by Division” concept and the beginning of a thoughtful implementation process. Our conceptual conversations involved numerous key stakeholders, a consulting economist with expertise in private colleges and independent schools, a research and marketing firm specializing in independent schools, and a talented design team from the CSArch and SLAM Collaborative architectural firms. In exploring the concept, our design team conducted fit studies of how we might organize the campus by divisions and completed a comprehensive engineering study of our facilities. All of this work supported the conclusion that organizing the campus by division presents exciting opportunities for the school to refresh its physical plant and educational and co-curricular programs to better serve our students and secure our future.
WHAT IS “CAMPUS BY DIVISION”?
This concept re-focuses how we serve students by organizing our campus by their developmental stages first, then by their sex. From a practical standpoint, the Albany Academy for Girls building will become our lower and middle school, with single-sex classrooms. The Albany Academy building will become our upper school, with areas devoted to single-sex, co-curricular programming.
WHY ARE WE DOING THIS?
The Campus by Division concept was originally developed in response to community feedback that suggested the school could provide a more optimal student experience if it were organized differently. The Albany Academies were created through a merger in 2007. However, for the last sixteen years, we have maintained significantly different building cultures that go far beyond what might be expected to provide single-sex education. Internal research suggested that these two cultures contributed to a perception of inconsistent treatment of students and that it might be an opportune time to have “form follow function” by reorganizing school spaces to better reflect the fact that The Albany Academies are now a coordinated school, rather than two separate entities.
As our facility needs came into sharper focus, this concept also became a catalyst for developing a long-range master facilities plan that will preserve and update the campus. This planning presents a unique opportunity to update our use of space to better reflect our current use of them as a coordinated school. In doing so, we can design purpose-built spaces to meet the developmental needs of the students they serve and address any redundancies caused when the schools merged in 2007.
HOW MIGHT CAMPUS BY DIVISION BE
BETTER FOR STUDENTS?
Organizing the campus by divisions creates a foundation for a more unified school culture, disrupting the conditions that may have led to a perception of inconsistent treatment of students. As the concept developed, senior school leaders also realized that organizing by division provided opportunities for better faculty collaboration, more focused use of school resources, and a safer campus environment.
HOW WILL WE HONOR OUR HISTORY
AND TRADITIONS WHILE FOCUSING ON
As we continue to evolve into a single, coordinated school, we are actively exploring how we will continue to celebrate our history and honor cherished school traditions. Stakeholder working groups have been formed to help with this. Their input will guide our design team about how we express these essential elements of our identity when we organize by division.
WHAT ARE SOME OF OUR PLANNED CAMPUS IMPROVEMENTS AND PRESERVATIONS?
The vision for our facilities master plan is to significantly preserve and modify our beautiful 52-acre campus over the next decade. Beginning this summer, we will start updating critical building infrastructure, including roofs and heating systems. Over the next few years, some of our projects will include updating the lobby of the AAG building, renovating the science wing in the AA building, and creating dedicated spaces for exploring Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) content in both buildings. In addition, longer-range plans are currently being developed, including updates to performing arts spaces and athletic facilities.
Christopher J. Lauricella, Ed. M. P’20, ‘22
Head of School