Shaver Learning Commons at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School

Phoenix, Arizona

Intentional outdoor learning spaces connect students with nature, expanding opportunities for hands-on learning, and building community and creativity.

  •  Six principles guided the design of the Shaver Learning Commons: Use High-Performance Materials; Respond to the Site; Facilitate Learning; Create a Balance; Inspire Intrigue; and Provide Purposeful Flexibility.

  • Bench swings are supported by a water-collecting shade structure. A rain chain connects the canopy downspout to a cistern.

  • An interactive sundial is located in the science discovery center at the spiral terminus. Aluminum plaques representing our solar system’s planets are embedded across the site, spaced to-scale relative to their origin.

The Shaver Learning Commons (SLC) at All Saints’ Episcopal Day School started when a recently completed classroom building on All Saints’ campus introduced DREAMlabs, a program designed to provide spaces where innovation, problem-solving, and collaboration are at the forefront of education. With the space from the new classroom building, four outdated buildings were removed, opening an acre of land in the heart of campus for a new and innovative educational use. The SLC is intended to dovetail with the DREAMlabs curriculum, providing outdoor spaces for innovation, problem-solving, and collaboration, as well as areas to apply projects developed indoors.

The final design centers on the Fibonacci spiral as its overarching theme. The Fibonacci sequence, or “golden ratio,” is a naturally occurring pattern that is applicable within mathematics, computer science, and algorithm development. The SLC has been carefully designed to respect the environment and use resources responsibly. Protection of mature trees throughout the space was prioritized, including the school’s historic “Wisdom Tree.” The preservation of existing trees helps seamlessly connect the new with existing spaces. Additionally, original stone cobble was salvaged from the decommissioned buildings and reused in the landscape and on architectural features in the SLC, tying the reimagined space to the school’s rich heritage.

Related Projects: