Learning Tours

Thursday, October 26, 2017  12:30-4:30 pm

Tour 1 – North Atlanta Track 

North Atlanta High School

Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta, GA
Architect: Cooper Carry

The new North Atlanta High School is designed to accommodate 2,350 students in what previously had been a 56-acre IBM Corporate Campus. The adaptive re-use design includes an 11-story concrete-framed office tower that spans over a scenic lake, an assembly building and a 942-car parking deck. In order to maintain the site’s beautiful, dramatic terrain, the existing, on-grade parking lots were converted into athletic venues for baseball, softball, football, tennis and track.

The functional space needs of a high school are quite different from those of a corporate campus; however, the existing office tower was well suited to provide primary classroom, administration and food service space. The top eight-floors contain four small learning communities that are each housed on two floors. Each learning community was designed with a large double-level public space that includes a dramatic, connecting staircase. These focal spaces create a place for students to connect, hang out and identify as their own space. In addition, from a student’s perspective, each of these learning communities breakdown the size of the school into a space that each student can connect with.

The project presented a particular challenge of efficiently moving 2,350 students throughout the 11-story tower and ensuring that students arrived to class on time. Cooper Carry devised a floor access system where staff and those with disabilities have access to every floor while students are only granted elevator access to the top floor of each academy and other public floors. As a result, students are encouraged to use the stairs in their own community, minimizing the number of elevator stops. A third set of stairs was added to the center of the tower for safety and convenience. Drawing on Cooper Carry’s experience designing high-rise hotels and office buildings, the design team replaced the traditional, outdated elevators with state-of-the-art destination elevators found in newer high-rise hotels and offices. This high tech system directs users to specific elevator cars, transporting them to the same floors and thus reducing the load time in half.

An additional assembly building constructed adjacent to the tower includes large, high-volume spaces with special acoustic needs and accommodates a 600-seat auditorium, a 150-seat black box theater, music rooms and a 2,100-seat competition gymnasium with practice gym. A ‘Main Street’ design approach was used to connect the two main buildings and parking facility.

Cooper Carry provided Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Interior Design and Graphic Design Services with Collins Cooper Carusi Architects, Inc. & Paul Cheeks Architects, LLC.

Check out the news stories written about the new school


  • Association for Learning Environments Georgia Chapter, Best in Renovation Design Award
  • CMAA South Atlantic Chapter Project Achievement Awards, First Place New Construction, Less than $100M
  • Urban Land Institute Atlanta Awards for Excellence
  • ENR Southeast, Best K-12 Project Award, 2014
  • American Concrete Institute, Outstanding Achievement Award
  • American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia (ACEC Georgia), 2015 Engineering Excellence Award, Grand Prize

Mountain View Elementary 

Cobb County Schools
Marietta, GA
Architect: Steven & Wilkinson Architects

Tour 2 – Eastern Atlanta Track 

Chamblee Charter High School

DeKalb County School District
Chamblee, GA
Architect: Perkins + Will

Chamblee High School is a 287,000 square foot, four-story classroom building that serves 1500 students in the DeKalb County School District. Academic spaces include science and technology laboratories, art and music spaces, a media center, administrative offices, a cafeteria, a stage kitchen and outdoor gathering areas. Both the classroom building, and the adjacent two-story gymnasium are steel structures with storefront, brick, precast and stucco exterior. 

Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology

Gwinnett County Schools
Lawrenceville, GA
Architect: HGBD Architects

The Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology is a 360,000 sf charter high school for Gwinnett County Schools designed by HGBD Architects. The facility is a high tech educational space with an orchestra hall, sound rooms, twelve university level science laboratories, choral room, TV production, media center, and several lecture halls. The project included demolition of 110,000 SF in the interior of the old Benefield Elementary School and a 5 story, 250,000 SF new building. The new tower connects to the existing school and spans to the Maxwell High School building which is located on the adjacent site. The site work included underground detention made up of 3,500 LF of 12 foot diameter piping which is located under the north parking lot. Due to Maxwell High School being in operation during the construction of the new facility, staging of the site was a priority in order that the bus traffic and flow of students and teachers was not interrupted. The renovation portion of the project revealed many unknowns which required diligent teamwork between the contractor, owner, and architect to provide prompt, economical solutions. The 5 story building is a steel structure with CMU walls. The exterior construction of the building consist of brick, cast stone, curtain wall and storefront glass. Sustainable elements of the construction process included the use of energy recovery units, waterless urinals, an energy management system, energy efficient lighting, and the reuse of an existing building.

Tour 3 – South Atlanta Track 

Benjamin E. Mays High School 

Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta, GA
Architect: Perkins+Will

Encircled by a stand of towering deciduous trees, Benjamin E. Mays High School keeps a low profile, despite having been home to such notable alumni as visual artist Radcliffe Bailey and musician Cee Lo Green, and currently being the largest school serving grades nine through 12 in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS). When it was built in 1981, the 310,000-square-foot concrete-and-brick structure was a bunker of a school: Low ceilings and winding, windowless corridors made for dark and uninviting interior spaces. It lurked on its hilly site, high above a middle-class African-American suburb.

As part of Atlanta Public Schools high school transformation program, the 340,000 square-foot Benjamin E. Mays High School has been completely renovated to house four new career-based academies.

Benjamin E. Mays High School demonstrates how a aged, worn school building can be transformed into a modern learning facility that the community, teachers, students can be proud of. Mays is an example of how adapting and renovating the existing school can be as effective as completely demolishing and building a new building. This facility is transformational for the Mays community and has been accomplished at a much 

lower financial and environmental cost than building a whole new school.

Ronald E. McNair Middle School

Fulton County Schools
Atlanta, GA
Architect: Stevens & Wilkinson

Stevens & Wilkinson recently completed work with Fulton County Schools to design the Ronald E. McNair Middle School replacement facility, which is a middle school prototype that previously has been site-adapted to nine sites.

Tenth of this design, the Ronald E. McNair Middle School will implement new typologies of learning and space to accommodate 21st century learning skills and technologies that are necessary to prepare students for the changing needs of college, the workforce, and future careers.

The architecture project team with Stevens & Wilkinson designed the 187,000 square-foot school to deliver a fully functional immersive learning atmosphere. The concept involved self-contained yet unified learning settings provisioned for complex and rich learning environments. 

The middle school features 46 core classrooms; 12 science labs; 9 specialty labs and classrooms; a re-envisioned media center; leading-edge gymnasium; and music and art rooms. 

These content- or topic-based immersive learning zones were created to feature visually appealing and imaginative designs with multifunctional learning spaces; custom niches for concentration; and bold, colorful interiors. 

Other immersive learning or so-called “neighborhood” environments include team lecture and collaboration spaces; four interchangeable classrooms; individual work areas; tiered lecture areas; and a central teacher planning node within each neighborhood. 

The immersive learning design for Ronald E. McNair Middle School incites creativity and encourages active collaboration, with the collective goal of successfully addressing challenges surrounding the ways in which students retain information; the advancement of new technologies; the unique customization of curriculum; and a focus on flexible and active learning spaces.

Stevens & Wilkinson’s middle school design gives rise to students being highly engaged in an environment that enables teachers to put theory into action.

Tour 4 – Additional Registration Fee Applies

Carter Library

* tour limited to 55 participants

The Museum of the Jimmy Carter Library provides a unique experience for the visitor. Through immersive exhibitions of objects, documents, and photographs, videos, and beautiful gifts from world leaders, visitors can get a close-up view of the modern American Presidency.

Highlights include a life-size replica of the Oval Office, a dramatic “Day in the Life of the President” presentation on 13 ft. screens, a walk-through cabin setting for the crucial Camp David Meetings exhibition, and an Interactive Map Table that takes you with the Carters to monitor elections and fight diseases. The Presidential Library is nestled between two lakes on 30 acres of park land and provides a tranquil setting with a view of the Atlanta skyline.

Changing exhibits are drawn from the library and museum collection or are based on themes relating to the presidency and American history.