Designing First Impressions: Brewster Academy’s Admission Space

The average attention span is 8.25 seconds (down from 12 seconds in the year 2000)! Within 8.25 seconds, prospective students and their families will make a staggering number of assumptions about your school. These assumptions will be based largely upon their first impression of the admissions office. Therefore, the visitor experience must be exceptional from the moment they enter the front door of your campus.

The Brewster Academy Admissions Department was operating in a building with limited accessibility and structural deficiencies. After careful listening and vision planning sessions, together we determined the best solution was the expansion and relocation of the Admissions Department. Brewster Academy was steadfast in their desire to honor the Academy’s history and create the proper first impression.

Following an audit of appropriate available space, an underutilized mezzanine located in the heart of campus was selected. This location allows visitors to experience the setting by arriving lakeside, walking through the campus quadrangle and historical Academic Building prior to arriving at the Admissions Department.

The 3,300 SF program is organized about the structural grid of the vaulted timber roof frame. It is anchored at one end by views of the lake and the other by large windows overlooking an active, 3 story circulation hub. Private offices and mechanical spaces are pulled to the side, maximizing the central circulation core. Offices are supported by flexible furniture pods, each providing meeting, greeting, and working space depending on daily and seasonal activity levels.

To accommodate the Admissions program, a centralized mezzanine overlook was closed and a floor was added, creating additional area while providing acoustic separation from the active Learning Center below. Materials are clean and timeless: wood, glass, natural stone and a unique, offset carpet pattern.

Finishing touches include abundant technology, iPad sign out stations, a full marketing and print shop, mini bistro, and a subtle abstract window film composition that draws inspiration from the natural surroundings while providing privacy for the offices beyond.