Record enrollment at Gunston prompts expansive facilities master plan

CENTERVILLE — In June, the Gunston School’s board of trustees approved a Facilities Master Plan that aims to expand the school’s current facilities and programming to accommodate robust enrollment growth.

According to a news release, the plan includes a STEM Center and Environmental Field Station to support the school’s science, math, robotics and environmental programming, as well as a new Athletics Center and Performing Arts Center.

Additional upgrades include expanded and upgraded athletic fields, the development of a central campus promenade and parking improvements.

“Our trustees have approved a plan that is equally ambitious and creative,” said Head of School John Lewis, “and the plan aims to align the school’s facilities with our needs and strengths, as well as our robust enrollment growth, which has grown nearly 80% since 2010. Our hope is to create one of the premier independent school campuses on the East Coast, anchored by our 35-acres of waterfront property.”

Led by architect Al Rubeling of JMT, the master planning process involved collaboration with every constituent group in the Gunston community — employees, parents, students, alumni and community partners — through surveys, focus groups, and thinking/visioning exercises, the release states.

“Al Rubeling led our previous master planning process with great success, and he coordinated a very intensive and inclusive process,” said board chair Patrick Shoemaker ’03. “Our goal was to create an updated Facilities Master Plan that resonates and transforms as powerfully as the one Gunston completed in 2011.”

The 2011 plan resulted in a nearly $6 million renovation and enhancement of the school’s academic classrooms as well as the addition of both Fine Arts and Waterfront Athletic centers.

In recent years, Gunston acquired an additional 3-acre parcel of adjacent waterfront property, which will anchor the new STEM Center and Environmental Field Station.

The plan also reflects the school’s twin strategic goals of significantly enhancing its offerings in athletics and the performing arts.

These facilities will serve both Gunston students, as well as the hundreds of children who attend the Horizons and YMCA summer programs hosted on the school’s campus, according to the release.

“While we currently have an extraordinary campus, talented students, and a deeply committed faculty, our enrollment growth has created some mismatches between the scope of our facilities and the scope of our programs. Simply put, our STEM, Athletics, and Performing Arts programs are outgrowing their current homes,” Admissions Director David Henry said.

In 2021 and 2022, the school’s trustees and leadership team will be conducting a feasibility study with CCS Fundraising to determine next steps for bringing the campus master plan to reality.

“Like our previous campus master plan that emphasized classrooms and common spaces with abundant natural light, this updated version aims to take full advantage of our campus setting. Since the times of Plato, it has been well understood that the physical environment is essential to inspiring student learning. At Gunston, we’re continually working to create optimal campus spaces for the educational experience,” Lewis said.

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