Why Space Matters

The belief that space matters, supported by extensive research, has prompted Hawken to invest a significant amount of time and resource in the school’s learning spaces in recent years. Read more about our facilities in each division below.

Click here to read "Why Space Matters", an article from the Hawken Review.

“We shape our buildings. Thereafter, they
shape us.”
-Winston Churchill, 1943


Early Childhood: An Environment that Supports Learning

Hawken’s Early Childhood Center provides an environment that supports our nationally recognized early childhood programming. The interior of the new facility resulted from collaboration with Creative Environments Design Collaborative, a nationally known educational design firm, to accommodate Hawken’s unique developmental continuum, which is grounded in the belief that the aesthetic environment plays a significant role in a child’s development. Hawken’s facility enhances programming by inspiring exploration, supporting a range of social learning experiences, and encouraging development of motor skills.

Central to Hawken’s Early Childhood Center is the Nido, which features flexible and aesthetic design elements to create an environment that inspires and motivates students to engage in a variety of learning activities and learning styles. As Director of the Early Childhood Center Mary Beth Hilborn notes, “The environment invites the children to interact with it; the natural world is the most complex to navigate because it engages all of our sense and promotes the greatest cognitive growth.”


“It’s a real inspiration. I’ve seen many early childhood spaces, and this is the most beautiful and child-centered space I’ve ever seen.” 

-Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus, Harvard Medical School and founder of the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Children’s Hospital Boston, speaking at the grand opening of the Early Childhood Center in August of 2011



Lower School: Room to Grow

Recent renovations and expansions to the Lower School provide a classroom environment that facilitates Hawken's innovative curriculum. Instructional spaces in the Lower School have been intentionally designed to enable one-on-one time between student and teacher, support small group work for targeted learning, and provide space for larger community gatherings. Instead of confining students to classrooms for the entire day, the building features common spaces and areas for small group study to enable collaboration among and between students and teachers. Our dedicated science labs ensure that students get hands-on experience in controlled environments; our music and art studios nurture their innate creativity, and our outdoor classroom, Poutasse Woods, enables students to explore and interact with the natural world without leaving our school grounds.  


“I like the classrooms at Hawken because they are nice and cozy and warm. I also really like the teachers and the people at Hawken.”


-Anabelle, 2nd Grade



Middle School: Using Space to Build Connections and Community

As you walk through Hawken’s Middle School, you may notice that there are few hallways. Instead, the building is structured around identical clusters of classrooms called “pods,” one for each grade level. These pods were intentionally designed to provide opportunities for your child to connect and converse within his or her grade-level community.

While there are times when it is advantageous and appropriate to gather as an entire Middle School community, the pods provide students in each grade their own space. And because the entire grade can be seated in the pod common areas, students can gather to address logistics or to discuss a particular issue at hand. In this environment, your child and with his or her classmates will be called upon to become problem solvers and to take ownership in defining the culture and character of their community.

As one teacher put it, “Pods promote the idea in each grade level of having a space that’s just yours. Our sixth graders have a space where they can just be sixth graders and our eighth graders have a space where they can just be eighth graders. It gives them a nice freedom to just wear the skin that they’re wearing. And sixth graders and eighth graders are really different people.”

Faculty Perspective: Jim Scully, Humanities Teacher

"The individual grade-level pods in the Middle School are at the heart of our daily interaction with students. They are the hub in which kids attend their core classes, yet more than this, they are the places where we get to know students as individuals outside the academic arena. Pod meetings with every member of the class present offer information, updates, and chances to celebrate and laugh on a daily basis.
 
I think one of my favorite parts of the day has become the early morning. I've taken to seating myself at a table near the middle of our seventh Grade pod and I can greet every student as they start their school day with inquiries about everything under the sun: from how their sports team did the day before, to how much snow might be coming our way, to how the Cavs played last night. 
 
We are lucky to have physical space that supports and builds our relationships with kids. The strength of these relationships has a tremendously positive correlation to our work with students within the classroom."

Upper School: Signature Spaces to Support Innovative Programming

Stirn Hall, the new academic building at Hawken’s Gates Mills campus, opened in August of 2016. In addition to the new media and fabrication labs, the new science center, a café, and a learning commons, the facility features expanded classroom space and mobile furniture to support active learning activities including performance, simulations.

Liberal use of glass between classrooms, common spaces and faculty offices reflects Hawken’s commitment to openness and transparency. The central learning commons, café, and additional common spaces - varied in size to accommodate individual study, small and large group work, and social activities - foster a sense of community that is central to Hawken’s ideals. Also noteworthy is the building’s inspirational and aspirational features; the building offers the direct views out to nature in all directions and features an inspiring 30-foot cathedral commons.


An independent, coeducational, college preparatory day school, preschool through grade 12

Lower & Middle Schools, 5000 Clubside Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Upper School, PO Box 8002 (12465 County Line Rd), Gates Mills, OH 44040
Gries Center, 10823 Magnolia Dr, Cleveland, OH 44106

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