Dover High School Wins National Design Award


SHP designed the new Dover High School, including a two-story sunken courtyard that makes the most of a limited site layout.

SHP announced today that one of its recent projects, Dover High School in the Dover City School District, was awarded a grand prize in the Architectural and Interior Design Awards of Excellence, an annual competition sponsored by Learning by Design magazine. Learning by Design is a highly regarded national trade publication celebrating education design and innovation excellence.

The nearly 180,000-square-foot Dover High School accommodates about 900 students and delivers a modern, yet classically styled, high-performance learning environment. The building is designed with a blend of extended learning areas and traditional classrooms in each academic wing; shared-wall, team teaching rooms; high-tech science labs; project-learning spaces to support the district’s “Project Lead the Way” curriculum; and a dramatic, two-story sunken courtyard with indoor/outdoor learning stairs.

Among its remarks praising the school’s design, the jury wrote, “The sunken courtyard, which serves as outdoor dining, combined with the indoor/outdoor ‘learning stairs’ are an innovative design that creates community in and out, and provides a specific focal point for students. Having a courtyard at the heart of the campus is a good idea to collect everyone and give a central space for activities.”

The Ohio Facilities Construction Commission (OFCC), which manages the state’s public school renovation and construction projects, also views Dover High School as exemplary. “We have a design manual that we use throughout the construction process, but it takes the architects’ vision and artistic interpretation to apply it. The result is a wonderful building like Dover,” said OFCC Project Manager, Karen Little.

Throughout the school, learning and collaboration are encouraged and enabled through unique design features, including:

  • A centrally located common area that connects to every major component of the new school: media center, academic wings, fine arts and athletics.
  • A sunken courtyard near the building’s entrance provides enhanced daylight and greater indoor/outdoor connections.
  • A prominent set of natural light-filled “learning stairs,” allows students to gather for lunch, project collaboration, instruction and social activities.
  • A 1,000+ seat auditorium, creatively designed to mesh with the fabric of the school’s urban, residential neighborhood.
  • An open media center, which doubles as the auditorium’s performance lobby, seemingly “floats” above the student dining space from below.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the learning environment provided in our new Dover High School,” said Dover City Schools Superintendent, Karie McCrate. “It is innovative and lends itself to 21st Century learning in a way that will serve our community for generations to come.  The natural light, flexible use of spaces, and open learning areas are all conducive to today’s learners.”

Dover High School, which opened in 2020, was one of only five projects in the country to earn the grand prize distinction from the competition’s jury, which based its scoring on six criteria: innovation; sustainability; interior design; next generation learning; planning and functional design; and community needs.

Jeffrey Sackenheim, Vice President of Architect at SHP, said of the project, “Every once in a while, the stars align on a project: a great client with a clearly defined vision for the future, a strong construction partner, a supportive community, and an amazing site. We had all of that and more on the Dover High School project. Everyone involved with the project put their heart and soul into it—and the result is clearly one of the best buildings that our firm has completed in our 120 years. We are humbled by the recognition the project has received and we are of course grateful that we were asked to be a part of this team.”

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