Our girls are unlimited.
Our girls are unlimited.
Our girls are unlimited.
Our girls are unlimited.
Our girls are unlimited.

Architecture Physically Manifests our Values

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Authored by Head of School Dr. Fran Bisselle

Done right, architecture can physically manifest the values of the people who inhabit and gather together in built environments. Architects seek to embody the mission of a place through design and construction. For example, Hathaway Brown’s spectacular four-story atrium, with its floating staircases and continuous panels of glass that drink in the sunlight, is designed to communicate to our girls that for them, the sky is the only limit. Buildings are more than bricks and mortar; their physical forms help convey a certain sanctity, ambition, and hopefulness for the work at hand. 

Last week, one of the most iconic structures in the modern world—the U.S. Capitol—was compromised and violated. The building stands as a monument to our democracy. It is a place designed to house the two chambers of Congress, with sacred halls built to allow the open exchange of ideas, differences, and debate. It’s a place where history is made, honored, and challenged; where reverence, respect, and rules help to guide those doing the important work of governing.

As a historian, I have studied the incidents of violence and actions of insurrection that grazed our Capitol in the past. Before last week, those incidents seemed to have arisen in times that have long since passed. Yet Wednesday, when the Capitol was breached in a violent insurrection, many, including myself, were deeply disturbed, jarred, and overwhelmed by the loss of life, the violence, and the destruction that took place. As we learn more about this incident, it becomes even more disturbing and alarming. We are talking about this with our girls, helping them to process this reality in developmentally appropriate ways, as we reinforce that they are safe here at HB. 

Environmentalist Terry Tempest Williams once reflected in an essay she wrote about the escalation of divisive rhetoric in the United States, “I have always believed democracy is best practiced through its construction, not its completion—a never-ending project ... in a constant state of renovation.” 

We have a lot of work to do to build our future and I am heartened that HB girls will be among the builders.

In this same spirit of constructing spaces that allow for collaboration and the free exchange of ideas, we are pleased that HB’s architect, David Zenk of Gund Partnership (the same firm that designed HB’s atrium and the Carol and John Butler Aquatic Center), and the Albert M. Higley Co. have helped to complete Phase One of our Classic Building renovation, a project that has been supported by major philanthropic gifts made by HB alumnae and friends.

By January 19, the main hall will reopen and we will welcome students to beautifully refreshed spaces. This construction embodies the HB mission and community values; it is classically modern, bright, and welcoming, with cutting-edge technology and flexible classroom spaces for students to pursue distinguished academics. Young girls will feel empowered walking in our new halls as they creatively put their knowledge into action. Phase Two will commence this same day, and we will be taking the building’s East Wing (which now houses mathematics classrooms and College Counseling) offline until May. We hope to move into Phases Three and Four during the summer months. 

Finally, spaces are made even more beautiful through the art that fills their halls. I believe the arts help synthesize knowledge and make meaning of emotion. So it is with great pride that I share with you news of HB student success in this year’s Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. HB has again outperformed all CCIS schools, due no doubt to the talent of our students and the inspiration they garnered from their extraordinary educators. I am grateful to my colleagues for their incredible work in supporting these artists and writers. Thirty-seven students’ artwork was recognized in the annual competition, with 15 Gold Key, 10 Silver Key, and 22 Honorable Mention awards granted. You can view some of the winning artwork here. In the writing categories, 23 HB students earned 60 awards, with 12 Gold Key, 22 Silver Key, and 26 Honorable Mention designations. This inventiveness and creativity bodes well for the uncertain times we are embracing in this new year. I am filled with an enormous sense of optimism that HB girls are leading the way. 

Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation
Phase One of Classic Building Renovation

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