On Jan. 8, The Archer School for Girls finally broke ground on its Campus Master plan.

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The much-anticipated event to herald the beginning of construction on the school’s new Academic Center was initially scheduled for December, but had to be pushed back following the Skirball fire. Then plans for last Monday’s outdoor rock dedication and parade had to be quickly scuttled due to rain.

Bringing the high school girls into the dining hall for the hastily rescheduled indoor ceremony, there was barely room to move. And the middle school girls had to watch via a screen in the Rose Room across the courtyard. If anything, it highlighted just how much the school needs the new Academic Center.

L-R: Architect Craig Jameson, Head of School Elizabeth English and Board of Trustees Chair Frank Marshall.

Despite the inclement weather, Head of School Elizabeth English remained positive. “Fires. Rain. Nothing stops an Archer Girl from breaking ground,” English declared to huge cheers and applause.

The groundbreaking coincided with the first day back at school and the day after the Golden Globes ceremony. “Last night’s Golden Globes was all about girl power,” English said, “and today in celebration of Archer’s long awaited groundbreaking we make it about the future of girls and our new academic center is designed to convey exactly that.”

Two large banners blew proudly in the rain outside declaring The Force is Female.

English said that when schools are built in this country they are fundamentally utilitarian designed to contain rather than inspire children. However, she said she believed architecture is the ultimate art of the people and “a beautiful school is a gift from one generation to the next and schools are the most important buildings that we build.”

A rendering of the new Academic Center.

It’s taken almost eight years from conception to groundbreaking for Archer’s new Academic Center, following a rigorous public engagement and review process.

The new academic center will take around 14 months to complete and will feature 30,000 square feet of flexible spaces.

Architect Craig Jameson from Parallax Architecture and Planning, told the girls the new center would be an amazing place for “discovery, creativity, for making friends but most important of all it’s about creating a place of joy.”

Jameson also received cheers and applause when asked how many of the girls felt that joy was an important part of learning. In creating the new building, Jameson said questionnaires were sent to the entire Archer student body to ask what the children want. Over 330 girls responded. And the number one top feature everyone requested was air conditioning, and the second was bigger classrooms. The new Center will also have state of the art audio-visual equipment.

Board of Trustees Chair and leader for the campaign for Archer, Frank Marshall said of the new Center, “The wonderful collaboration of our students and teachers will continue to promote our founding principles of innovation, community and diversity. I think Archer is and will continue to be a leader in girls education.”

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