KIPP Academy – Historic Highland Heights Middle and High School, Nashville, TN

Case Study Overview


GHP Environmental + Architecture worked with KIPP Academy and Metro General Services to design and build a 92,465 sq. ft. middle school/high school facility. The completed structure includes 34,871 sq. ft. of existing historic building area and 57,597 sq. ft. of new construction, successfully married to the historic fabric of the original facility.

While on the surface it appeared as though our job was to design and build a school, the project came with much more opportunity than that. We wanted to design a school that retained the historic integrity of the building while providing contemporary learning spaces and meeting our sustainability standards.


Although the facility sat empty for years and created an eyesore and safety issues for the community, the neighbors to the school wanted a say in the design of the building, and they were adamant about preserving the historic pieces of their neighborhood icon.

GHP Environmental + Architecture worked with Metro General Services and KIPP to genuinely listen to community concerns as well as teacher needs and wants to ensure the finished product was exactly what everyone affected by the project needed in a community facility and a school.


The final result is a facility that includes educational spaces for interchangeable general classrooms, science classrooms and laboratories, computer laboratories, a dedicated music classroom and common areas for use as flexible informal gathering areas and for informal large group instruction or casual small group study areas. The design is sympathetic to the needs of the community and has woven those needs in with its inviting educational spaces. Neighborhood benefits include a much brighter and clean area as well as use of the facility for community events while preserving the historic neighborhood icon.

KIPP Academy Director of Operations, Thomas Branch, said of the project, “The team at GHP Environmental + Architecture listened to our wants, dreams and needs. They were able to deliver on all of our needs, most of our wants, and a few of our dreams, as they navigated a tight budget. I liken my experience to the show Extreme Home Makeover because we were blown away by the finished product. I look forward to partnering with them in the future.”