Established in 1999, the Geneva School of Boerne is a faith-based school offering a Classical educational curriculum for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The school is located in the community of Boerne, northwest of San Antonio, where it serves more than 650 students on its 30-acre campus.
When Garza Architects launched our relationship with Geneva, their campus consisted of one permanent gym and dining building and multiple modular classroom buildings. The young school faced several facilities-related challenges.
Lack of a Detailed Master Plan
The school had a rough master plan outlining the facilities they would need in the future and how the campus might accommodate them, but it lacked the specifics needed for detailed implementation planning. And in a situation like this, where an institution expects extensive growth over a period of years, those details are crucial to making sure that the roll-out of new facilities is manageable and sustainable.
The Need for Private Funding
Because the school is funded through tuition and private donations, effective project phasing is critical, as is the ability to convey a clear vision to potential donors.
Syncing Campus Growth With a Changing Student Body
As the initial class of Geneva students grew older and moved up through the grades, the school’s facility needs changed and became more complex. Older students require larger facilities with more sophisticated capabilities. They also become interested in athletics, which introduces a completely new facility need to the campus. In addition to supporting student retention, keeping up with these changing needs is also important for recruiting new students.
Lack of a Clear Campus Identity
Because Geneva was being built from the ground up, the campus didn’t have a clear physical identity when we began our relationship with the school. This lack of a compelling sense of place wasn’t ideal for fundraising or student recruiting.
Our relationship with Geneva goes beyond traditional client and designer. We took on an extremely consultative role to help them develop and implement a long-term master plan in a way that supported very specific goals for fundraising, recruitment, and student achievement.
Create a Long-Term Master Plan
Our work on developing a detailed, long-term master plan for the campus was crucial to the school’s ability to plan for and manage its ongoing growth. This road map tied facilities to the changing needs of the student body, set clear priorities, established preliminary budgets, and defined a vision for the physical environment of the campus.
Assist With Capital Campaign Efforts
As the master plan was implemented, we worked closely with the school’s fundraising team to create materials and information to support their capital campaign. As part of the design process for individual facilities, we developed schematic plans, renderings, and budgets that could be shared with potential donors.
Create a Physical Place That Matches the School’s Ideals
The Geneva community challenged us to help them build a campus that reflects their unique Classical education approach, Christian values, deeply invested teachers, and highly engaged culture. We responded with an architectural vocabulary that projects longevity, permanence, dignity, and Classical ideals.
We have also worked to tie the campus to its Hill Country home by using regional vernacular architectural features, materials, and landscaping.
Since the original development of Geneva’s master plan, we have had the pleasure of playing a hands-on role in its successful implementation. We began with helping the school to transition from temporary buildings to their first permanent facilities and have designed and overseen the completion of the gymnasium, lyceum, grammar school, and rhetoric school.
When we began working with Geneva, they shared a quote from Winston Churchill: “We shape our buildings, and afterwards, our buildings shape us.” We have tried to live up to that ideal throughout the relationship, partnering with the Geneva community to create buildings that will support the school’s teaching philosophy and commitment to excellence for years to come.