New Bahamas School Serves Wellness and Community
23 March 2021

In Nassau, The Bahamas, the Lyford Cay International School has announced the opening of a major new academic building designed by the architects Cooper Robertson.

An important milestone for the prestigious independent day school also known as LCIS, the 35,000-square-foot Gateway Building is the first facility completed for an entirely new, 17-acre Upper School Campus planned by Cooper Robertson which, when fully completed, will be able to serve up to 350 students in grades six through 12.

With an emphasis on flexibility and student wellness, the Gateway Building forms the centerpiece of this new campus. Key program elements offer state-of-the-art facilities for the sciences, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) instruction, including teaching labs, art studios and music recital rooms. Drawing on vernacular Bahamian styles, the arcaded structure, just one room wide, allows for indoor/outdoor learning and ample cross-ventilation for the interior zones.

Each classroom, flanked by 12-foot-wide verandas, expands floor area for LCIS into outdoor education areas, where elegantly proportioned courtyards and extensively landscaped grounds also serve as learning environments. According to the architects, this access to daylight, fresh air, and nature brings positive student wellness, both physical and mental, during the current pandemic and beyond.

The completed first phase also includes a free-standing, open-air octagonal dining pavilion, a compound of facilities buildings, and a gatehouse. Cooper Robertson’s scope of work extends from master planning to building design to the design of elements including fountains, a compass rose, building signage and donor recognition elements. Future phases of work at the LCIS Upper School will include a performing arts center, a second academic building, and athletic facilities. These building projects also derive from Cooper Robertson’s long-range expansion scheme, which aims to enhance the growing institution’s academic, sporting, and co-curricular offerings. At the Lower School, Cooper Robertson’s design vision includes renovations to early learning classrooms and construction of a new, 5,200-square-foot multipurpose building to enhance teachers’ ability to serve younger pupils.

For the community of Lyford Cay International Baccalaureate School, this architectural work and campus plan have served as a valuable springboard to long-term success. In a recent statement, principal David Mindorff described the Gateway Building project as “an investment in a brighter vision for education in the Bahamas.” He added, “These new facilities will allow us to continue providing the enriching learning experiences that have propelled LCIS forward from a small community school to a global leader in education.”

“As one of the global educational community’s leading International Baccalaureate schools, LCIS has invested in a comprehensive and forward-looking campus vision that is a foundation of its continued success,” says John Kirk, AIA, partner at Cooper Robertson. “The Gateway Building exemplifies core principles of contemporary academic design: Great outdoor rooms, architecture that embraces its context and enhances the community, and innovative teaching facilities that respond to today’s students and administrators while anticipating the future.”

Cooper Robertson’s involvement in this ambitious project adds to the firm’s growing international portfolio and highlights decades of experience in planning and architectural work for educational organizations and independent schools. In addition to Lyford Cay International Baccalaureate School, Cooper Robertson has completed educational planning and architecture works for the New York Botanical Garden’s Edible Academy, the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, the Harlem Village Academies High School, and Stuyvesant High School.