At a Glance

Native ecosystems are woven into new campus building design to connect students with the unique ecological identity of place in central Alabama.

Project Description

With its extensive open space, outdoor classrooms, and interactive teaching spaces, the 350-acre campus of the Indian Springs School, originally designed by the Olmsted Brothers in 1950, reflects the school’s motto of “Learning Through Living.” Yet by 2013 the school’s buildings and campus were in need of modernization. The school completed a master plan to guide the development of a forward-looking campus that fosters the growth of educational opportunities and provides the campus community with greater flexibility, inspiration, and connectivity.

The first phase of the master plan involved the design of new academic, arts, and dining facilities. Integral to this effort was the desire to integrate the campus with its buildings and introduce students to more exposure, access, and connectivity with the school’s natural resources. The lead architect, Lake Flato, assembled a team of experts to participate in an integrated design charrette with the Indian Springs School staff, faculty, alumni, parents, and students. As the sustainability consultant, Biohabitats helped facilitate the charrette discussions related to land, site, and water, which helped uncover the ecological potential of the site and the unique resources that can be celebrated and enhanced.

During the charrette, campus landscape resources were recognized as central to the identity of the school, with special attention to the campus’ lake, wooded trails, and gardens. The opportunity to celebrate native biodiversity in plantings and building orientation was also recognized. Goals emerging from the charrette included the design of a resilient, engaging, native landscape with ecologically responsive stormwater management that is seamlessly integrated with the new buildings.




Physiographic Province

Alabama Valley and Ridge


Cahaba River

Expertise Areas

Infrastructure, Water


Indian Springs School


Indian Springs, Alabama, United States

Project Team
  • Lake Flato
  • Architecture Works
  • Jeff Carbo Landscape Architects
  • Walter Schoel Engineering
  • MBA Structural Engineers