New Elementary School at Cawston Avenue

San Jacinto, California

  • FIRM

    Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke


    San Jacinto Unified School District

  • AREA

    85,019 sq.ft.





The design of this new elementary school is created by a continuous radial covered street, which is anchored on one end by the multipurpose, food service and lunch shelter as well as the administration and library buildings. The double-loaded finger-plan classroom buildings radiate from this street and create intimate outdoor courtyards that serve as ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY900COST PER SQ FT$211.49FEATURED IN2006 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYWork in Progress environments.

The administration, library and multipurpose buildings compose a strong “front-door” facade, enforced by landscaped welcome entry courts for this community. Various community functions are envisioned for these entry courtyard areas.

The challenge of this 12-acre site was to provide ample staff and visitor parking for about 140 cars while keeping separate bus dropoff and parent dropoff zones. Access to the parking and dropoff areas were off the less traveled residential street in lieu of the more traveled arterial streets. The building complex layout and its site placement also help mitigate vehicle noise from the same arterial streets. The buildings’ finger plan orientation also enables the prevailing southwesterly breezes to circulate throughout the outdoor learning environments.

The kindergarten classrooms and fenced outdoor play areas are adjacent to the administration to enable easy and safe access for parents to the front door. These interior spaces also have an adjacent activity center for art, group projects and other education facilities.

Architecturally, the buildings are designed to fit into the craftsman-like context of the planned neighborhood. The materials and colors are used to create a sense of scale and welcome students and parents. Extensive daylighting is used throughout all the spaces for energy conservation.

The school planning process included teachers, principals, administration, parents, school nurses, custodians, facility planning staff, a school secretary and librarians to provide input from the stakeholders as to what works in their community. The result is a school that reaches out to the community, nurtures students and has a great sense of place for volunteers, teachers, staff and administrators.