City / School

Summer 2011

Entry for the 2011 Cleveland Competition

Assisted by Bryan Alcorn and Katie Baldwin

City/School is miniature city within the city of Cleveland, and a new home for Campus International School. The scheme imagines a future student body for CIS of 1500 students, and locates the school within a bustling enclave of urban activity. The intent is to integrate the diversity and culture of urban life into the educational experience, while stimulating the surrounding city through the school’s presence. Encompassing the entire site provided in the competition brief, City/School begins by imposing a miniature urban grid of pedestrian streets, with two diagonal “shortcuts” that provide vehicular access, visual connection to downtown Cleveland, and a connection to Cleveland State University. On the ground level, the building meets the urban grid as a series of small pavilions. These pavilions house entries to the CIS, as well as retail, office, residential and educational programs that have been selected based on their synergy with the school. Additional blocks have been zoned for future development.  On the second floor, blocks combine to provide sufficient contiguous floor space for the school and other programs. The CIS is organized around a large “interior urbanism” commons composed of a distributed library, special media and language classrooms, the cafeteria and other public programs. Growing out from this central commons are branches of classrooms organized by academic concentration. The high-school is on the second floor (the most public), while elementary school (complete with a playground) is protected on the fourth floor. The scheme grounds the school within a miniature and intensified urbanism at its exterior, while organizing the school around an equally intense interior urbanism. Thus, City/School is doubly, and enthusiastically, invested in the value of urban life as a pedagogical tool.


Formally, City/School is conceived both as a mega-form with regulated building envelopes that slope to accommodate view corridors, and as a network of individual figural buildings. From a car, or from far away, the complex looks like one giant building. From up-close, or from within the network of pedestrian streets, the mega-form dissimulates into a collection of figures.  Hence, like a miniature Manhattan, the urban blocks host figural expressions of programmatic diversity, while working together to form a larger urban experience. This duality springs from an investment in two, seemingly contradictory, readings of urbanism. Cities are both collections of figural monuments and places that solicit memory and association, and networks of systems, infrastructures and economies. City/School seeks to immerse the educational experience in each of these readings of urbanism.

A collection of urban figures

A network of figures in formation.

Program Diagram: School programs are above, in pink. Complimentary urban programs are below.

Fourth Floor Plan: Grades K-5

Third Floor Plan: Grades 6-8 and Commons

Second Floor Plan: Grades 9-12 and Commons

Ground Floor Plan: Entry to school and urban programs


Aerial Perspective

View to entry pavilion and Cleveland State University

Second and Third Floor Commons

View towards downtown