North Tampa Christian Academy

Wesley Chapel, FL

The Story

North Tampa Christian Academy (NTCA) is a 21st century learning center designed and constructed with Science and Technology as a major programmatic element. NTCA has state of the art science and fabrication labs. These labs open via overhead door to the covered courtyards so large-scale projects can be constructed and displayed indoors or out. Examples of skills taught in these labs include welding, metal fabrication, woodworking, and various other digital fabrication exercises.

Being situated on a 43-acre site with protected wetlands provides many opportunities to teach students about natural Florida environments. The goal was to create opportunities for students to safely explore and engage in the natural world. To reinforce this concept, indoor classrooms were separated by outdoor learning spaces which were then covered to protect the students from sun and rain. This space between the buildings is as important as the space inside the buildings. Additionally, having this outdoor learning space helped mitigate the unforeseen issues relating to teaching during a pandemic. Other outdoor teaching features include a nature trail, large pond with a dock, island rookery, bat house, and a farming program. The campus also features age-appropriate playgrounds, and athletic fields.

The 65,000 sf k-12 school includes three separate learning communities, administrative offices, cafeteria, and a multi-purpose gym/auditorium with flexible stage. The design for the school was guided by three core principles: utilizing the entire site for learning, reinforcing a strong sense of community, and maintaining harmony with nature. To meet these core principles several unique design elements were implemented.

Four principles were used in forming the concept layout for the school buildings: 1) Break down the scale of the school into age-appropriate learning communities - each with its own pavilion and all shared through a centrally located common area 2) Provide flexibility through a variety of learning settings for 21st century learning 3) Create connections between spaces for seamless movement between activities. 4) Provide social spaces large and small for gathering and assembly.


AIA Tampa Bay Merit Award for Architecture (2021)