American School in London, Arts Centre

Walter & Cohen
Date Built
Completed 2016
Waverley Place
The American School in London built its home on Waverley Place in 1971.   Modernist in style it was quite revolutionary in the tree-lined suburb of St John's Wood.  Over the years the design presented the school with some challenges so, as the school's website explains, "... in 2000 it added  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.  Then in 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 they added this building that they refer to as their Community Arts Building and underground Aquatic & Fitness Centre.  This provided the school with a 6 lane 25 metre pool, a fitness centre and multipurpose instructional space.  "These new facilities provide an additional 26,000 square feet of teaching and learning spaces to each and every student."

Apparently, the original plan for the part of the building that was above ground was to give it a, "facade formed mainly of composite crushed glass, which generated an effect of diaphanous, shoji-screen-like opacity" but which, it was suspected, would not go down well with the neighbours.  They settled on something more in tune with the classical, stuccoed, neighbouring houses, "... 115mm thick panels of self-supporting buff Portuguese limestone, offset from the concrete structure."  The panels were grooved with flutes that are 180mm wide but which diminish in depth from 20mm depth at ground level to zero at the parapet.  "Every single cut stone panel had to be hand finished to sand away minute striations."

The building features full height windows that ensure that natural light flows into the exhibition and studio spaces.