Joan Clark Davis Center for Interdisciplinary Learning
Renovated historic building in Shadyside to enhance school’s adaptable, flexible approach to education
Winchester Thurston School, known for its innovative independent school education, announces its new Center for Interdisciplinary Learning named after local alumna Joan Clark Davis ’65. It is the first facility in the school’s 134-year history to be named for a graduate of the school.
A historic building at the corner of Morewood and Centre Avenues, just blocks from the school, is currently under renovation to become the Joan Clark Davis Center for Interdisciplinary Learning. The new facility is designed so the school can continue to adapt space for project-based and community-based learning, while creating collaboration among humanities, engineering, arts, and science programs. Additionally, the space will expand the impact of the school’s renowned City as Our Campussm program, which connects students in all grade levels with mentors from the academic, cultural, scientific, non-profit, and business communities in Pittsburgh.
“Some of the deepest educational connections happen outside the traditional classroom setting, and beyond the boundaries of individual subject matter offerings,” said Head of School Scott D. Fech, Ph.D. “As we continue to evolve our practices for teaching and learning, the new Center creates a unique space to foster that learning and growth. We are deeply grateful for Joan’s leadership with this generous gift to her alma mater, one that will influence the lives of students and the community for generations to come.”
Winchester Thurston School played an important role in my life. As today’s students work toward leading the vastly different world of tomorrow, they will need new and different skills, in addition to the critical thinking embedded in a Winchester Thurston education. I am honored to support the school’s efforts to continue as pioneers in education.Joan Clark Davis '65
The Center is also being designed to be a community resource, providing opportunities for neighbors across the city and around the region to use the space. "We look forward to exploring how this interdisciplinary hub can enable our community to have an even greater positive influence on the region, comparable to City as Our Campus' transformation of student learning and engagement," said Paul Rosenblatt, President, Winchester Thurston School Board of Trustees.
Slated to open in the 2022-2023 school year, the new building will alleviate space constraints in the Upper School Building, which opened in 2006, and will allow for physical expansion of the Lower and Middle School spaces housed within Molloy Posner Hall, which was built in 1963 and dedicated in 2017. These two facilities currently support record-high enrollment of 632 students in grades Pre-K through 12.
“Winchester Thurston School played an important role in my life,” said Davis. “As today’s students work toward leading the vastly different world of tomorrow, they will need new and different skills, in addition to the critical thinking embedded in a Winchester Thurston education. I am honored to support the school’s efforts to continue as pioneers in education.”
The transformational leadership gift from Davis, the largest single donation in Winchester Thurston’s history, is the cornerstone to a larger campaign that will unfold in the coming months and focus on the school’s strategic priorities to Reimagine Learning, Rethink Time and Space, Support Employees, and Strengthen Community.
"The design of the Center reflects best practices in terms of the school's ambitious goals for sustainability and environmental impact," added Rosenblatt, who is also a nationally recognized architect. "We are intentionally adapting an existing building rather than building new. This is in keeping with our commitment to being a good steward of the land and an integral part of the community fabric. Our goal is to create a learning space that is a model for sustainable urban campus growth and flexibility."
Built in the 1920’s, the structure at 4951 Centre Avenue will house 15,000 square feet of adaptable space over two floors, including workshops, studios, and community gathering spaces.
Ann Beha Architects works to create an inclusive and welcoming environment. Founded as a women-owned business and now a registered minority-owned enterprise, ABA is dedicated to diversity and equity in design and the workplace. Their studio-wide advocacy and leadership groups support a diverse group of designers and practitioners, and they offer opportunities for both informal and formal exploration of current issues in design, identity, and diversity.
Through a bold approach to imagining our future, we will develop individuals of strong character and prepare them for the demands of a changing world.