The Jan Phillips Learning Center

When it comes to practicing what you preach, The College School in suburban St. Louis is leading the way. Since its founding in 1963, the school has had a mission of engaging and captivating children ages 3 to 14 through hands-on, nature-based experiential learning. Sustainability is a common theme throughout the curriculum. The school is also a U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School.

In May of 2017, the school unveiled the 3,000-square-foot Jan Phillips Learning Center, located at its 28-acre off-site LaBarque Campus near Pacific, MO. Named in honor of former Head of School Jan Phillips, the learning center was built according to Living Building Challenge (LBC) standards, which are considered to represent the highest level of achievement in a green building rating system. Within the learning center are a classroom/community space, a workshop, restrooms and a storage area which doubles as a protective shelter against storms. In addition to the learning center, the project also includes a 1,400-square-foot outdoor classroom/pavilion and a 2,150-square-foot plaza, which doubles as a solar observatory.

The learning center is designed to achieve net-zero energy, water, and waste in pursuit of Living Building status. “Green” features employed at the Jan Phillips Learning Center include rainwater capture and reuse, composting toilets that make use of resources that otherwise would be wasted, daylighting, natural ventilation, renewable energy, salvaged and locally harvested low toxicity materials, an aqueduct, a stream feature wall, stained glass storytelling panels and a stone chimney which represents the geology of the area.

The Jan Phillips Learning Center serves as the base of operations for the LaBarque Campus and all of the ecological and scientific studies, adventure education, and cultural, historic and arts projects that take place there.

Just as important, the learning center is a place for The College School to connect with the larger community. The learning center will be used to host conferences and workshops on experiential learning for teachers from schools throughout the St. Louis area as well as a site for students from local schools to visit and experience alongside students from The College School.

Quick Facts about The Jan Phillips Learning Center

Pursuing Living Building Challenge (LBC) certification, which is considered to represent the highest level of achievement in a green building rating system. The goal of the LBC is for buildings to become truly sustainable and regenerative, creating as much as or more than is required to manufacture and operate a building and to be healthful to life and the broader community.

  • Location: The College School’s 28-acre LaBarque Campus in Pacific, MO
  • Construction Start: June 2015
  • Project Cost: $2 million
  • Project Footprint: 6,550 square feet total; 3,000-square-foot classroom, 1,400-square-foot outdoor pavilion, 2,150-square-foot outdoor plaza
  • Architect: Hellmuth Bicknese
  • Contractor: Harlan Construction Company
  • Materials Used: Lobby wainscoting is made from old-growth Douglas fir salvaged from the Checkerdome. Other lumber used was sourced from downed trees from Grant’s Farm, Jefferson Barracks and the LaBarque campus
  • The stone geologic fireplace chimney incorporates stones located on the LaBarque property

Read more about the LaBarque Campus here.


Unless otherwise stated, all photos are © The College School. Photos are explicitly for editorial purposes only. For all other purposes (e.g. books, scientific papers, documentaries), please contact

Subject Matter Experts

The College School is happy to provide subject matter experts around The Jan Phillips Learning Center and LaBarque Campus. Please contact Jill Pampel,, 314-962-9355 to arrange an interview.

_WoodTim Wood, Sustainability Coordinator

Tim has worked at the College School since 1984. He served as Middle School Teacher and Middle School Coordinator for most of these years and now serves as the school’s Sustainability Coordinator. Teaching across the grade levels, Tim provides a wide variety of science experiences for children throughout the school. [read more=”Read more” less=”Read less“]

Tim has, for many years led the Kindergarten “Day in the Woods,” helps with the climbing rotation on the First Grade Campout, as well as the Tyrolean Traverse on the Fourth Grade Campout. Tim co-founded the Eighth Grade Field Ecology Class and TCS Outdoors summer program. He has a BS in Elementary Education and a Masters in Teaching Science. He is certified in Science 7-9, Physical Education K-12, and Health K-12 and has local climbing certifications. Tim is a Master Naturalist with 30 years of experience working with students in the Outdoors. He has been instrumental in curriculum development for the Garden, Greenhouse, and the LaBarque Campus. His background in ecology and interest in horticulture come together naturally in his work with children. Tim has continued his professional development, studying Systems Thinking and Biomimicry, and he presents at local and national conferences.[/read]

Jan Phillips, Former Head of School

Former Head of School and teacher at The College School. The learning center is named in Jan’s honor.