- School Life
The hilltop above Ward Parkway at 51st Street, as it bends west to join Shawnee Mission Parkway, is changing daily to reflect the implementation of Pembroke Hill’s Building Together campus master plan.
The Building Together plan includes the construction of an iconic new Dining Hall, a new Athletic Center and an Art Gallery. Additionally, Hall Student Center and the Lawn (campus quad) are being extensively reconfigured.
The new facilities will provide both expanded gathering spaces for activities of the Pembroke Hill community, including dining, school events and community programs, and specially designed areas to support the school’s thriving performing arts, speech and debate, robotics and athletics programs. From the outside, the improvements are intended to offer a new, welcoming and more attractive face.
Planning throughout 2018 and 2019 allowed the school to break ground on the $52 million project in May 2020, and construction is 60 percent complete. The new Dining Hall is projected to be available in August for the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. The Athletic Center will open four months later, in December 2021.
Head of school Brad Shelley said, “The construction has been an incredible sight to see since breaking ground last spring. The project will provide amazing opportunities for education, collaboration and growth for our academic, arts and athletic programs. With the support of our Pembroke Hill community, this vision is becoming a reality. Once these new spaces are complete, we look forward to connecting with and inviting the greater Kansas City community to our campus.”
The Building Together project is made possible with the support of a capital campaign, which will fully support the costs of completing the master plan. Pembroke Hill Trustee Jonathan Kemper ’71 and former Trustee David Kiersznowski are serving as co-chairs of the campaign. Lead donations have been provided by the Hall Family Foundation; Jim and Marilyn ’70 Hebenstreit; William T. Kemper Foundation; Patterson Family Foundation; and many other members of the Pembroke Hill family.
“I think people will be immediately pleased and surprised with the dramatic transformation of the school’s public face at Ward Parkway,” Jonathan Kemper shared. “But beyond that, with its focus on improving the quality and capacity of Pembroke Hill’s major gathering places, the Building Together master plan is intended to embrace and inspire not just the Pembroke Hill community, but also the greater community of which we are a part. Pembroke Hill strives to be an exemplary institution for our region. After completion, these new facilities and other improvements can aid in serving our students and their families, our neighbors, friends and the larger and diverse communities of greater Kansas City.”
David Kiersznowski said, “One of the wonderful things about the Building Together Campaign and project is that it will affect all parts of our community. It will encourage students to challenge themselves and work collaboratively. It will create spaces for families to come together and to get to know one another better. It will impact our teachers’ ability to provide the best learning environment.”
Gould Evans and McCownGordon Construction are the project’s designers and construction manager, respectively. Tara Armistead is providing design support for the campus landscape plan.
McCownGordon CEO Ramin Cherafat said, “We are proud to partner with one of the region’s top educational institutions in expanding their facilities to enhance the education of Kansas City’s future leaders. The Pembroke Hill School’s multi-phased campus improvements will expand its student amenities including dining and athletics.”
Emily Harrold, design architect for Gould Evans, is looking forward to the impact this will have on the lives of Pembroke Hill students. “These new spaces will soon come alive with celebrations, dances, dining, graduations and sporting events, becoming the backdrop of many shared memories for Pembroke Hill students, staff, families and alumni.”
The Lawn, completed in late summer 2020, has already become a new center of the Ward Parkway Campus, touching and embraced by the campus’ buildings. The Lawn’s nearly half-acre of open space is providing a new area to gather for outdoor learning sessions, impromptu student gatherings, school programs such as club fairs and pick-up games, and after completion of the Dining Hall and Hall Student Center, will be used for celebratory events, such as graduation.
Completed in late summer 2020.
Hall Student Center
The Hall Student Center, which includes the current dining hall and one of the school’s performance facilities, is being substantially revised with a new, more welcoming and accessible entrance, and an expanded lobby that provides additional space for music and performing arts families, audience members and performers to congregate. Additionally, the school’s food service serving area will be expanded and organized to improve the flow of students and faculty selecting their lunch.
Completion is expected in August 2021.
The new Dining Hall will be a 16,000-square-foot building that provides for the campus dining, educational areas and gathering space. The ground floor will feature nearly 4,000 square feet dedicated for academic programs and include areas for Pembroke Hill’s nationally-ranked speech and debate program to practice, and floor space for the robotics team to construct and test their robots. Specifically, this space will provide a speech and debate classroom with four practice rooms, a robotics classroom, a multi-purpose room and an additional classroom.
The building is highlighted by a 37-foot-high barrel-vaulted roof, featuring two art screens at either end, designed by artist Jan Hendrix and fabricated in dual polished stainless steel by Kansas City-based Zahner.
Completion is expected in August 2021.
Arts Connector and Gallery
The Arts Connector is a skywalk connecting the new Dining Hall with the school’s arts-focused Centennial Hall. The Arts Connector and its adjacent Art Gallery will combine to add over 1,500 square feet of gallery space available to present works by students and other artists. Pembroke Hill’s visual arts students have earned 225 Scholastic Art Regional Awards over the last five years.
Completion is expected in August 2021.
The new 53,000-square-foot Athletic Center will replace Pierson Gym and significantly expand Pembroke Hill’s athletic and wellness facilities. Impacting all Pembroke Hill student-athletes, the facility will be home to the school’s district champion volleyball squad, four-time state champion girls basketball team, two-time state champion boys basketball team, dance squad and wrestling team.
The new Athletic Center will expand the school’s ability to host athletic and academic tournaments with a 900-seat competition gym and a 200-seat auxiliary gym. The competition gym, with a total seating capacity of 1,500 people for non-athletic events, will provide a space that, for the first time in school history, can host indoor, on-campus events for the entire student body, faculty and staff.
Pembroke Hill students will enjoy a 1,500-square-foot weight room, a 913-square-foot multi-purpose space and an 816-square-foot cardio area. The facility will also include a lobby and concessions. The Athletic Center will connect to the stadium with a 900-seat spectator area and press box.
Anticipated completion is December 2021.
After the Athletic Center is operational, Pierson Gym, currently visible from Ward Parkway and primarily used for intramural sports and physical education, will be removed to provide an open green space.