La Vista/La Sierra Continuation High School

Fullerton, California

  • FIRM

    Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke


    Fullerton Joint Union High School District

  • AREA

    55,000 sq.ft.





This alternative-education facility is designed to provide an integrated setting for at-risk students, and to meet the individual needs and academic abilities of students who have not succeeded in a comprehensive high school setting. The school combines a continuation high school, an independent study program and the Teen Age Parenting Program (TAPP). It is an urban ADDITIONAL INFORMATIONCAPACITY800COST PER SQ FT$336.36FEATURED IN2006 Architectural PortfolioSUB CATEGORYWork in Progress that provides a comfortable and professional setting.

Placing numerous programs under one roof allows the district to combine resources efficiently to serve the needs of these at-risk students. By combining them onto one site they can share resources such as the library/media center, computer labs, science labs, P.E., dance and food service for all of the programs.

The design is arranged around two distinct courtyard areas that provide a safe and secure learning environment. The interior walls of the courtyard are glass to create a transparent environment where students engage and learn from one another in an open environment. Classrooms are designed to accommodate up to 20 computers in every classroom. The classrooms are set up to provide for a comprehensive curriculum within a smaller setting.

TAPP creates classrooms where mothers attend regular classrooms while their babies and toddlers are cared for in a nurturing environment. The design includes infant-care areas, toddler rooms, age-appropriate playground spaces and dining facilities.

The site is in an urban area across the street from a large state university. The small 3.5-acre site must accommodate the 55,000-square-foot facility, parking for 220 vehicles, and circulation for buses, cars and maintenance vehicles.

The two-story solution creates two secure student courtyards that provide an oasis from the urban environment. These are active areas for students to congregate and interact. Landscaping provides a backdrop for the outdoor learning environment that is lined by the glass walls to the classrooms. Glass walls provide daylighting but are protected from the sun by large overhangs.

This school will replace three facilities that are spread out throughout the city. The design team met with every teacher, principal, counselor, custodian, and resource officer, as well as a sampling of parents and students at these existing sites. The result is a facility that provides an open, inviting learning environment, and is progressive and intensive for students that otherwise would be lost in the system or simply would be a dropout statistic.