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Stantec designs first WELL Gold certified high school in the U.S.

Sandy Spring Friends School’s new Pen y Bryn Upper School embraces wellness for a healthy environment for students


Sandy Spring Friends School’s new Pen y Bryn Upper School, designed by global integrated design firm Stantec, recently earned WELL Gold certification recognizing a commitment to occupant health and well-being.

Stantec provided architecture, interior design, and engineering for the Upper School, located on the 140-acre Sandy Spring Friends School campus that houses multiple educational buildings for more than 650 students from preschool to 12th grade. The Upper School serves students in grades 9-12 as they prepare for college and further learning.  

Stantec’s design reflects the school’s Quaker values—Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Stewardship—and creates a harmonious space for teaching and learning. The architecture aligns with the school’s core values through a simple, elegant design that celebrates the Upper School’s sense of community, collegiality, and respect.

Students and teachers have access to a wide variety of educational environments—traditional classrooms, open or closed collaboration areas, and social spaces—that offer dynamic lighting solutions and flexible, ergonomic, and adaptable furniture.

The school’s WELL Building Gold design features a biophilic strategy that captures nature through:

  • Environmental elements
    The new building offers many outside views from classrooms, offices, social areas, and stair towers. A covered front porch next to the meditation garden, a sunny maker-space patio to the west, and a quiet roof terrace on the third floor extend learning to the outdoors. The interior palette is inspired by the school’s ropes course, a well-known local amenity amidst a beautiful natural setting, and incorporates large areas of ash wood walls created from trees reclaimed onsite.
  • Energy solutions
    Interior rooms have expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass to provide daylighting and exterior views through large windows in classrooms, collaboration areas, offices, and social areas. The lighting design uses high quality LED lighting compliant with WELL Building standards. Lighting in the main commons and adjacent conference room echoes the “tree canopy” interior design scheme and resembles an abstract tree branch.

In addition to its WELL Building Gold design, the Upper School is engineered as a net zero energy ready facility, where the total amount of energy used by the building annually is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site or nearby.

Stantec is ranked as a top ten design firm by Engineering News Record, a top ten architecture firm by Architectural Record, and a top four K-12 education firm by Building Design + Construction.

For more information about Stantec’s education expertise and projects, visit

About Stantec
Communities are fundamental. Whether around the corner or across the globe, they provide a foundation, a sense of place and of belonging. That's why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind.

We care about the communities we serve—because they're our communities too. This allows us to assess what's needed and connect our expertise, to appreciate nuances and envision what's never been considered, to bring together diverse perspectives so we can collaborate toward a shared success.

We're designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, innovating together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. Balancing these priorities results in projects that advance the quality of life in communities across the globe.

Stantec trades on the TSX and the NYSE under the symbol STN. 

About Sandy Spring Friends School
Sandy Spring Friends School is a progressive, coed, college preparatory Quaker school serving students from age three through 12th Grade, with an optional boarding program in the Upper School.

Founded in 1961, SSFS offers a deep and rigorous academic curriculum, character education rooted in universal Quaker principles, and a diverse and international student body that reflects today's global community. SSFS sits on a pastoral 140-acre campus in the heart of Montgomery County, Maryland, midway between Washington D.C. and Baltimore—an ideal setting for intellectual contemplation, athletic training, diverse extracurricular pursuits, outdoor exploration, urban excursion, and personal growth. Please visit for more information.

Media Contacts                                             

Susan Bender
Stantec Media Relations
Ph (267) 773-9593

Laura Miyoshi
Sandy Spring Friends School
Ph (301) 774-7455 x108

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