Bethany School Regenerative Campus

Building Architecture- Large Scale (>10,000 sf)

Project Narrative

Bethany School’s diverse enrollment was capped but demand was up. Once an orphanage, the converted classrooms were too small to support modern pedagogy. The new plan squeezes a K-2 building, a 3-8 building, and a cafeteria addition into the heart of the site while navigating a 20-foot elevation. The new designs capitalize on the owner’s mission to educate underserved populations and be good stewards of the environment.
The K-2 building is a modern take on the existing historic Tudor architecture. The 3-8 Building shifts to a more contemporary stone façade, culminating in the purely modern cafeteria addition. A community amphitheater, hardscape plaza, and natural playscape thoughtfully fill the areas in between.
The cost-effective, LEED Platinum and Net Zero Energy pending school is the Midwest’s most sustainable school and a teaching tool for students, faculty, and regional designers.
Site Advances: Native-only plants improve habitat health. The school steps with the land, forming the natural playscape, which lowered recess injuries by 70%, enhances motor skills, and lowers ADHD/ other disorder effects. A campus geoloop distributes the heat/ cool load making existing buildings more efficient. Rainwater controls are 30% better than code while recharging the aquifer.
Architecture Advances: Designed to 19 EUI, the buildings use less energy than the average vacant building per SF. The high performance is achieved by a series of design-based energy models focused on massing, glare, spatial layouts, orientation, window profiles, and LCCA – for the cost of a typical school.
Interior Advances: Biophilic design includes natural wood seating nooks and child-sized refuge spaces that bolster a student’s proclivity for nature. The carpet recalls forest floor complexities without mimicking. Floor-to-ceiling nature scenes reduce stress and calm emotions; the design maximizes daylight to enhance learning abilities. Universal and Healthy Building Design is used throughout.


Project Details

Submission Category

Building Architecture- Large Scale (>10,000 sf)

Date of Completion

July, 2020

Submitting Firm Name

emersion DESIGN

Project Cost


Project Team


emersion DESIGN

Interior Designer

emersion DESIGN


Conger Construction Group