McKissick Associates was asked to review the reuse of this functioning hospital following the Catholic Church’s decision to construct a replacement building. McKissick developed a plan that entailed a phased public-private partnership for the conversion of the building into a magnet school. The urban 8.3-acre St. Joseph’s site was completely transformed through the demolition of 250,000 SF. Original walls (including a four-story high stone chapel, a bell tower and 30” thick stone walls) were incorporated as exterior elements in the new additions. Existing hospital areas were converted to classroom use, while more than 122,187 SF of new construction accommodates large group instruction areas, a cafeteria, food service area, a kitchen, locker rooms, a gymnasium, band/choral rooms, a black box theatre, and an internet café. Waste material from demolition was used to create a hillside playing field.
The building was designed to create a small supportive learning environment. Construction of an additional story, above an existing building, houses four standalone (grades 9-10) school programs arranged around the District’s newly developed magnet programs: Arts and Humanities, International Business, Technology, and Agriculture Ecology and Science. Each of the four 600 student schools-within-a-school were arranged to be self-contained. Taking advantage of the natural slope (over 160-foot drop over a three-block distance), no student must move more than two stories to reach their respective core educational facilities.