American School in London

Fitzroy Robinson & Partners - with Shaver & Co
Date Built
Waverley Place

The American School in London can trace its history back to 1951 when Stephen Echard, an American journalist working for the BBC, responded to a request from his co-workers to start a school that offered an American curriculum.  His Knightsbridge apartment was the venue and he started with 13 students.    The school's website explains that in 1964, "... the newly formed Board of Trustees made the landmark decision to raise funds for a $7 million building to house the whole school. They broke ground in 1968 with the help of Ambassador David K.E. Bruce. The cornerstone was laid two years later by Ambassador Walter Annenberg. The Rt. Hon. Margaret Thatcher, MP, then secretary of state for education and science, spoke at the building’s dedication in 1971."

The design was described as involving four 3-storey hexagon-shaped blocks.  Apparently the interior was left open-plan and was air-conditioned compensating for the fact that the exterior was described as having a, "windowless, fortress-like" appearance.  The website says of the 1971 design that it, "... might have been surprisingly modernist for this tree-lined suburb of grand white stucco homes, but it was also quite flawed. The low-level, expansive campus, while using a novel hexagonal form as an ordering device for classrooms, also suffered from a deep, largely internalised plan. The upshot, over time, was that the odd-shaped open plan classrooms proved inflexible for modern teaching and light levels were generally found wanting, especially for art and design subjects."

The school's website explains that it addressed these problem starting in 2000.  In September of that year, ".... the School opened a new High School wing, which included an additional 24,000 square feet of space, a new gym, art studios, computer labs and a renovated library.  In June 2006, the School broke ground on the School Center for Education and the Arts, to create a 450-seat theater and new flexible teaching and performance space. The Center was completed in the winter of 2007 and officially opened in March 2008."

In 2014 the school added their Community Arts Building.  Information on it can be found elsewhere on this site.

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