International School of Beijing unveils new facilities in 2020

Submitted by: Nick Yates, ISB Communications
Appeared on the ET Journal Winter Issue 2020


At the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, the thought going through most people’s heads as they walk round the International School of Beijing (ISB) has been “Wow!” The school’s new facilities are, quite simply, stunning.

After a highly unusual Summer Break, this is the moment the whole ISB community has been waiting for as students have begun learning in a new Elementary School (ES) Arts Center and Theater, Middle School (MS)/High School (HS) Performing Arts Center, Early Years Learning Community (EYLC), and MS/HS Design Center.

These Facilities Master Plan (FMP) Projects have been years in the planning, including extensive community input and consultation, to ensure the school continues to live its Mission and Vision and provide challenging and joyful learning for all. We have finally seen some of the most significant construction projects in ISB’s history come to fruition.

The FMP was divided into new-build and remodel projects. ISB was excited to open the two brand-new projects – the ES Arts Center and Theater, and the MS/HS Performing Arts Center – in February, just as Covid-19 forced the temporary closure of campus and a period of online learning. They have since been joined by the remaining two remodel projects – the EYLC, and MS/HS Design Center in the fall.

The EYLC is a large, purpose-designed space to better serve ISB’s youngest learners. It features 13 classrooms, lofts, and large common spaces for Early Years 3, Early Years 4, and Kindergarten students. There’s an early years art classroom, music classroom, and student kitchen. Child-sized facilities and indoor play spaces are connected to outdoor play spaces.

The MS/HS Design Center is a centralized facility for showcasing design and engineering programs. Designers can work in a robotics and electronics lab, fabrication lab, finishing lab, three HS art classrooms, and three flexible collaborative spaces. This area of the school provides inspiring spaces to facilitate interdisciplinary and project-based learning.

The ES Arts Center and Theater is a flexible, creative performance/practice space unlike any other on campus, expressly designed to meet the needs of ES performers and audience members. It includes a purpose-built theater, performing arts classrooms, elementary art classrooms, and demonstration areas. ISB values the creative arts alongside academics in whole child development. By increasing co-curricular options, this new space gives a greater range of options for students to meet individual success.

Similarly, but for more senior thespians and artists, the MS/HS Performing Arts Center was purpose-built to create a space for the growth of ISB’s dynamic performing arts programs. The center includes specially designed performing arts classrooms and practice rooms (band, orchestra, choir, drama, and dance) with consideration for acoustic, lighting, and flooring requirements. Gerrick Monroe, ISB’s Chief Financial/Operating Officer, explained the genesis of these new facilities and how they strengthen student learning.

“Regular revisions of ISB’s Facility Master Plan are made to ensure that facility modifications and additions are relevant and vital to the success of our innovative and changing programs and in line with our goals of providing world-class facilities that best meet the educational needs of our dynamic school community,” he said.

“Flexible spaces allow for seamless changes in the daily programs and activities and are also more easily repurposed to meet the changing programmatic needs of a dynamic learning organization over the long term.”