St. John’s School has recently gone through a rigorous strategic planning process and has developed a new Campus Master Plan. The results of the Strategic Plan included a desire to be responsive to the growth of Houston and to increase the St. John’s enrollment incrementally and thoughtfully. The plan calls for vigilant adherence to “non-negotiables” such as academic excellence and current faculty-student ratios. The Campus Master Plan is reflective of these priorities, the overall Strategic Plan, and the mission of St. John’s School.
Innovative Classrooms, Senior Country, Office Space, and Parking
Putting the Campus Master Plan in motion required immediate use of the Taub Campus. Business and Advancement offices were moved from the Quadrangle to a modular building on the new holding in order to accommodate growth in the Upper School, with the renovation of the space into six innovative classrooms. These classrooms foster collaborative learning and communications skills. Student-led design of the new Senior Country in Trammell Commons took place as well. The paved lot on the southwest corner of Westheimer and Buffalo Speedway provides much needed parking. Perimeter fencing, landscaping, lighting, and sidewalks were put in place as well.
Fine Arts Annex
Construction on the new stand-alone building, which will be located on the east end of the Molly Smith Courtyard by the VST on the Brown (south) Campus, began in early summer and is slated for completion in spring 2018. This building will serve as a 6,300-square-foot multipurpose hall available to the Lower and Middle School communities as a much-needed gathering space and a fine arts rehearsal venue. Construction began in early summer and is slated for completion in spring 2018.
Field development plans called for the creation of multipurpose practice fields on the Taub Campus, the relocation of the baseball field to the Southwest Corner of the property, and the turfing of Finnegan Field which provides a state-of-the-art surface for the very popular and successful St. John’s field hockey program. The newly constructed baseball field has a moveable fence allowing multi-purpose use outside of baseball season. The 10,000-square-foot indoor batting cage and all-sport facility (Ligums Practice Facility) will be used in inclement weather. Bathroom facilities have been constructed as well. The multi-purpose fields are turf fields to maximize usage and minimize weather impact.
The new multi-purpose fields will redirect many middle school students who currently cross West Alabama to cross over the more controlled crossing of Buffalo Speedway. The School has received City approval to install a HAWK pedestrian crosswalk system on Buffalo Speedway and the goal is to have it in place in January 2018. With the student schedule changes, more multi-purpose practice fields provide the growing student population the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities and the ability to finish those activities within a reasonable time frame.
In addition to the direct benefit to the students involved in athletics, the field development will have significant impact on two important areas: student safety and the school schedule.
St. John’s partnered with St. Luke’s United Methodist Church for construction of a shared-use parking garage on the western portion of the Taub Campus. St. John’s allocated $2 million of campaign funds toward the overall construction cost of $11 million, and St. John’s has parking access Monday through Saturday. Importantly, the agreement with St. Luke’s ensures critical access to the garage from West Alabama and Westheimer through St. Luke’s property, thus eliminating the need to construct road access on existing St. John’s property.
Taub Library Renovation
The Board of Trustees approved preliminary plans to renovate the Taub Library in the Upper School. Scheduled to begin in summer of 2018, the Taub Library will be transformed into a library learning commons much like those found on university campuses. The new space will include small group meeting rooms and individual study carrels, as well as conference space to satisfy the ever-changing ways in which students learn and collaborate.