Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Minnehaha Academy’s rebuilt Upper School opens doors

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

On Aug. 21, 2019, Minnehaha Academy opened its doors to students of its newly rebuilt Upper School for the start of the 2019-20 school year.
Along with incoming freshmen, it will be the first time sophomores and juniors will experience student life at Minnehaha Academy’s historic campus at 3100 West River Parkway in Minneapolis.
It will be a homecoming for seniors who have not gone to school at the 3100 campus since their freshmen year before the tragic gas explosion on Aug. 2, 2017.
“The new Upper School reflects our celebrated history, while meeting the current and future needs of our students, faculty and staff,” said Minnehaha Academy President Dr. Donna Harris. “We are thrilled to welcome everyone back to where we’ve called home for over 100 years, and we are excited for what the next century will bring to Minnehaha Academy.”
An environmentally-conscious approach was taken for the design of the Upper School. Windows facing the Mississippi River are installed with bird-safe glass and window glazing to prevent collisions with migratory birds. Landscape architecture has been integrated throughout the campus to promote local wildlife, pollinator habitats and outdoor science curriculum. Also, a new drainage system minimizes the effects of soil erosion and runoff on the local ecosystem. Outside, over 100 new trees have been planted alongside several replanted after the explosion.
Efforts were made to integrate the school’s history into the new campus. Artifacts like an original sign, cornerstones and historic lockers are featured in the new building. Recovered stair treads are used as the base for two olive trees planted in the commons area, allowing students to literally follow the path of alumni. Salvaged trees during construction are bring repurposed for interior design use.
The building itself has beenconstructed from unique, handmade bricks similar to those used in Minnehaha Academy’s other school buildings.
“A school’s physical environment greatly impacts teaching and learning, and that research and understanding has played a significant role in this process,” said Upper School Principal Jason Wenschlag. “We took a student-centered approach to the Upper School design, and we have a bright future of reimagined teaching and learning at Minnehaha Academy.”
Minnehaha Academy community hosted a “Celebration Walk” with a ribbon cutting and open house at the rebuilt 3100 campus on Aug. 19.

The new building at 3100 W River Pkwy as viewed from the E. 32nd St. parking lot next to the auditorium. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)