Founded in 1849 by the Old St. Paul’s Parish in Baltimore, the St. Paul’s School is one of the area’s most storied and renowned college-preparatory schools. The school’s commitment to pushing their pupils to academic excellence gained them their excellent reputation, but by 2007, their 95 acre campus was in dire need of a new library.

Hord Coplan Macht was tasked with creating a comprehensive design for a library that not only catered to the needs of modern students, but also included classrooms and offices. The design started in the fall of 2007 and was completed in the fall of 2008.

For Tom Spies, the Principal-in-charge with more than 35 years of educational planning and design, the traditional definition of a library has changed. “We like to call the new model an ‘information commons.’ Whether it’s books, computers, or another technology, kids have access to information when they need it,” Spies said.

The St. Paul’s School library, Fisher Hall, was intended to be an addition to the existing Upper School building, but after many design alterations, the space was transferred to a new building. Fisher Hall contains classrooms, a cyber cafe and offices as well as the upper school library. The 21st Century Learning environment showcases technological efficiency, student-centered teaching, and sustainability. The library opened in the fall of 2010 and is still a center for information retrieval, but the space does much more than house books.

The school, spurred by board member and benefactor Dave Fisher, decided early on to make the building green. Following the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, Hord Coplan Macht included several LEED categories in the building design. A number of the features are small and serve to help St. Paul’s School students understand the implications of operating and maintaining sustainable buildings. They will learn how they can utilize these innovations and walk away with a strong appreciation of how these design trends can have real global environmental impact.

St. Paul’s earned a LEED Gold certification for this project. The building’s energy performance is displayed in realtime on a dashboard in the lobby. The display is web-based and can be viewed by clicking this link. Sustainable features include: ground source heat pumps, a green roof, a reflective roof, photovoltaic panels, occupancy sensors, and daylight sensors.