The Next Peak


A Building as Responsive as the Curriculum It Houses

The new Gates Rough-House will have flexible spaces that accelerate cross-curricular learning, creative problem-solving, and real-world applications.
New approaches to teaching and learning call for new kinds of spaces. Moreover, these spaces must be flexible enough to respond and evolve as our needs change in ways we cannot always foresee. Taking inspiration from Stanford’s Design School and engaging the input of thought leaders such as Harvard’s Frank Locker, Thacher has envisioned a new academic building to replace the Anson S. Thacher Humanities Building. The Gates Rough-House will support active learning across the disciplines. Real-world problems don’t organize themselves according to academic silos and neither will this building. Instead, the Rough-House will facilitate creativity and experimentation and offer the versatility to accommodate changing needs in the future.

Along with other top-ranked independent boarding schools, Thacher has moved beyond the Advanced Placement (AP) program. By stepping away from the AP syllabi we have freed up more opportunities to engage students in the kinds of work that will be expected of them in college and beyond. Our faculty have collaborated to design honors courses that balance time mastering content with active, often hands-on projects in which students apply their learning to real-world challenges or transfer knowledge and skills across disciplines. These courses provide more latitude to tap the specific interests and passions of students, take full advantage of resources that the Rough-House will offer, and take deep dives into current events, among many other possibilities.

Construction, which began in the summer of 2019, has made steady progress. Thanks in part to detailed computer models that prevent construction challenges before they occur, construction has proceeded rather quickly. The lower level concrete slab was completed during Winter Break; steel beams and interior framing are in place; interior walls are being framed in wood; and foundation work for the upper level has begun. 

As the School anticipates its revitalized academic core, classes that used to meet in the Humanities Building are being held in retrofitted classrooms and studio spaces in the Hills building. The new Rough-House is projected to be ready for occupancy in the fall of 2020 or winter of 2021.

Funding for the Gates Rough-House has made great progress. As of January 2020, 89 percent of the funding has been pledged with $4.2 million still needed to meet the goal.  Please reach out to Director of Advancement Jeff Berndt at if you would like to be part of making this transformational new facility a reality.  We would be grateful for your assistance.  

Visit the Next Peak website for monthly construction updates.
Back-to-School Playbook for the 2020-2021 School Year
The Thacher School
5025 Thacher Road
Ojai, California, 93023

Tel : 805-646-4377

Notice of nondiscriminatory policy as to students: The Thacher School admits students of any race, color, national, and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national, and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other School-administered programs.