Bethany School

  • area / size 44,000 sqft
  • Completed 2020
  • emersion DESIGN balanced learning, fun, and beauty in the design for Bethany School in Cincinnati, Ohio.

    The Community of the Transfiguration 20-acre property sits in the heart of Glendale, Ohio. This 20-building campus supports Sisters who live there and Bethany School, the only K-8 Episcopal school in Ohio. Established in 1898, the existing buildings are indicative of the decade in which they were built, resulting in an eclectic mix of styles and character sprinkled throughout the site.

    The same reasons this campus is beloved by so many also make this campus a challenge to build on. Topography is varied and the majority of flat parcels have been developed. Buildings must be sympathetic to the grade, embrace it and use it to make appropriate man-made additions to the landscape.

    emersion DESIGN’s final Master Plan for Bethany capitalizes on the existing assets while positioning the school and campus for decades to come. The overall plan retains the campus-like feel. Individual buildings preserve the home-like atmosphere that was treasured when classes took place in residential cottages. Larger classrooms supported by flex areas, appropriate technology, and operable walls elevate Bethany’s ability to teach today’s learners. A consolidation of academic core buildings from five to two enhances security while maintaining engagement with nature throughout the day traveling to different buildings for specials and lunch.

    One of the Midwest’s most sustainable schools is a teaching tool for students, faculty, and regional designers. These LEED Platinum buildings are designed to perform at 19-EUI, using 60% less energy than the average school building. A campus geo-loop distributes heating/cooling loads. Solar panels save the school 187,000 kilowatt-hours a year. Exceeding stormwater retention code requirements by over 30%, bioswales and rainwater controls recharge the aquifer feeding our all-native-species landscaping. This high performance was achieved by a series of design-based energy models focused on massing, spatial layouts, orientation, window-wall ratio, glare, insulation/glazing profiles, and Life Cycle Cost Analysis.

    Biophilic design utilizing natural materials & child-sized refuge spaces, bolster students’ proclivity for nature. Selected carpet recalls forest floor complexities without mimicking. Floor-to-ceiling nature scenes further reduce stress and calm emotions. Daylight has been designed to enhance learning abilities and Universal and Healthy Building Design is used throughout.

    The final composition showcases an advancement of Bethany Schools. It positions this unique place to compete well into the 21st century as a school focused on the best for their students, low student-to-teacher ratios, The Christian environment, family atmosphere, appreciation of diversity, and protection of our planet.

    Design: emersion DESIGN
    Photography: Darrin Hunter | Dish Design