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New Vista works in partnership with a national network of colleagues and organizations that have diverse expertise in curriculum and facility design.

Founded in 2006 by school architect and K-12 educator David Stephen, New Vista Design is a Boston-based consulting firm that works with a wide-range of school districts, charter management organizations (CMOs), architectural firms, and educational foundations across the U.S. and abroad to facilitate the design of future-ready, inquiry-based, and technology-rich school programs and the facilities that house them.

Meet David

Meet David
Founder of New Vista Design

David Stephen Headshot 1.tif

David Stephen’s professional life straddles the worlds of education reform and architectural design. As an educator, he has 25+ years of experience partnering with some of the field’s visionaries, working with schools nationwide to imagine, develop, and implement innovative school programs. As a licensed architect, he has over 15+ years of experience facilitating the architectural programming and design of forward-thinking school buildings. Not surprisingly, important and interesting connections happen at the intersection of these two disciplines. David speaks the “language of education” and the “language of design.” This allows him to not only translate and interpret best practices in education and design for his clients, but to assist them in fully exploring the relationship between the two.

Through his work at New Vista Design, David spends approximately 30% of his time helping districts, schools, and teachers develop multi-year training initiatives in student-centered and inquiry-based curricula and programming. His experience as a teacher, program coordinator, and curriculum developer in a variety of project-based educational environments grounds this work. Another 60% of David’s time is focused on partnering with districts, schools, and architectural firms to help facilitate the design of dynamic and forward-thinking school buildings. In this capacity, David has had the opportunity to collaborate with many pioneering architectural firms and school networks, and has played a key role in the architectural design and/or renovation of over 100 elementary, middle, and high school facilities across the U.S. and abroad. His projects include the design of facilities for the highly acclaimed High Tech High network of schools, Da Vinci Schools, Denver School of Science & Technology, Harlem Village Academies and Oracle Design Tech High School. 

Finally, David devotes approximately 10% of his time to engaging in research and advocacy efforts that aim to create and highlight best-practices and new models for school programs and buildings of the future. He has served since 2011 as the Co-Chair of Harvard Graduate School of Education’s LEFT (Learning Environments for Tomorrow) Institute, and regularly facilitates workshops for educational changemaking organizations and projects such as Schools That Can, the Deeper Learning Network, Agency by Design, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, and A4LE (the Association for Learning Environments). 



New Vista facilities projects include the nationally acclaimed High Tech High network of schools, the Denver School of Science & Technology, the Da Vinci School Network, and the Harlem Village Academy network of schools. Design awards for schools and programs that New Vista Design has partnered on include: 

  • West Bridgewater Middle Senior High School
    West Bridgewater, MA American School & University 2016 Architectural Portfolio Outstanding Designs: Combined-Level School BSA 2016 Educational Facilities Design Award: K-12 Facilities
  • High Tech High
    San Diego, CA American School & University Architectural Portfolio 2001 Educational Design Excellence Award Design Share 2002, 2003, and 2004 Honor Awards The Silicon Valley Business Journal 2005 Redevelopment Public Project of the Year
  • Essex Technical High School
    Danvers, MA Engineering News 2015 K-12 Education Award of Merit Learning By Design Annual Design Showcase, Honorable Mention 2016 Construction Management Association of America, New Construction Project of the Year 2015
  • CityWorks (Academic Vocational Curriculum)
    Cambridge, MA 1995 Ford Foundation Innovation in State and Local Government Award
  • Holbrook K-12 School
    Holbrook, MA 2017 North American Copper in Architecture Award
  • Da Vinci Wiseburn High School
    El Segundo, CA 2018 Building Design and Construction Silver Award


New Vista has collaborated on a wide-range of educational publications, including high school curricula and project-based learning guides, school case studies, and school architecture and design guides. 

Architecture for Achievement: Building Patterns for Small School Learning

Eagle Chatter Press, 2008, in collaboration with Victoria Bergsagel and the Architects of Achievement team.


Henry Ford Learning Institute Design Resource Guide

HFLI, 2007, in collaboration with Concordia Architecture and Planning. Design guide that outlines and illustrates the academic and architectural priorities of the Henry Ford network of charter schools.


Dollars and Sense II: Lessons from Good, Cost-Effective Small Schools

KnowledgeWorks Foundation, 2005, in collaboration with the Dollars and Sense team. Makes the case for the cost-effectiveness of small schools, with new research and examples of what is working at 25 schools across the nation.


CityWorks: Exploring Your Community

The New Press, 1999, in collaboration with Adria Steinberg. A high school curriculum that engages students in community exploration, service, and development. Based on the “CityWorks” program at the Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School, which was a recipient of a1992 Ford Foundation Award for Innovations in State and Local Government.

The New Urban High School Practitioner’s Guide

U.S. Department of Education (OVAE), 1999, in collaboration with the NUHS team. Case studies and best practices from six urban high schools using school-to-work strategies as a lever for whole school reform.


Seeing the Future: A High School Planning Toolkit

U.S. Department of Education (OVAE), 1999, in collaboration with the NUHS team. A planning process for schools to identify and work towards strategic design principles.


The VIA Project (Vocational Integration with Academics)

Cambridge Public School Department, 1997, in collaboration with Tamara Berman and Adria Steinberg. Strategies for integrating the best of vocational (hands-on) and academic (heads-on) approaches to teaching and learning.

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