Project 2000 - The Wing Building (1999)

 

After witnessing the widespread destruction caused by the Great Hanshin Earthquake in January, 1995, the board realized NIS quickly needed to look at its own vulnerability, and NIS was one of the first international schools in Japan to conduct a seismic assessment of its campus. Through this examination, the board found that the gym would be an issue and therefore it also prompted a ‘seismic’ shift in thinking about a new building that would fit into the school’s long-term planning for growth and stability. It was a logical step that fit into the new Strategic Plan that NIS was formulating to take the school into the future.

It was because of this strategic planning that the board and administration decided to rebuild the gym and include much-needed classrooms and modern space for the arts. The school hired Perkins and Will, an architectural firm internationally known for school designs, and whose lead architect had once been a student of Antonin Raymond. The design that was decided on was one that fused functionality and inspiration together in a revolutionary, wing-like structure, to inspire the notion of flying and lift. Indeed, this building was not only envisioned to provide modern educational spaces, but it was to ignite the students to think creatively and take off, out into the world. 

The name given to the new building was the Co-curricular Wing Building which soon affectionately became just ‘The Wing,’ succinctly describing both its function and its design. With the design in place, the board focused on developing the financial plan that would also require raising funds. Under the name of “Project 2000,” the fundraising campaign had two main aspects: community and corporate fundraising. The Board of Directors and Trustees, and the administration believed in the project but nonetheless, it required courage to persist on planning for the building project while following the new strategic plan as it coincided with decreasing enrollment. The two-tiered fundraising strategy also required the bold move of creating a Project 2000 Fundraising Campaign Committee. Iwao Isomura, Vice Chairman of the Nagoya Chamber of Commerce and Vice Chairman of Toyota Motor Company, accepted the request to lead the fundraising committee. A team of parents spear-headed the community drive, and everyone from teachers to students got involved in raising awareness and funds for the new project through their “Dolphin Club”.

Thanks to the efforts of everyone, NIS broke ground in 1998 and construction was finished on time without significant issues after much fundraising and community support. The end result was a stunning new building with state-of-the-art sports facilities with a stage for performances and assemblies, new art classrooms with space for creating ceramics and a photography darkroom and music rooms for learning and practice. The middle school added four large classrooms, and there was also a new administrative annex added. The design also created a glassed-in atrium space for the community to gather, as well a terrace used for outdoor functions. 

The opening ceremony was a tremendous celebration of the new NIS, and included several key business leaders and governmental officials, including the U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley, the first time for an ambassador to visit NIS. With this new building and a new strategic plan, NIS was heading boldly into the new millennium, but not before graduating the last class of the 20th century in the new Wing Building. This building, so different, yet so complimentary to the original round Raymond building encourages the students to dream big, even now after nearly 20 years.