Situated on a hilltop in the Santa Cruz Mountains, the new C.T. English Middle school replaces an outdated 1970s-era school facility that had been damaged badly in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The district sought a new school that would offer students modern classrooms as well as an outdoor gathering space, which the campus previously had lacked. CAPACITY350COST PER SQ FT$282.00FEATURED IN2007 Architectural Portfolio matters, the original buildings had been built across an earthquake fault; modern seismic standards required new structures be situated at least 50 feet from the fault line, limiting placement of structures to a 46,500-square-foot area of an already compact site.
The design maximizes the available land, placing buildings strategically in order to carve out an 18,000-square-foot central courtyard with outdoor learning areas, seat walls and planters. The facility includes eight conventional classrooms, two science/technology classrooms, an art classroom, a library/media center and administrative offices. The administrative offices and library flank the entry, facilitating public use of the library after school hours while allowing the rest of the facility to remain secure. Both the administrative offices and library have a dormer to bring in additional natural light.
Taking advantage of the region’s temperate climate, all classrooms open directly to the outdoors; a covered colonnade walkway provides weather-protected exterior circulation between buildings. Space for a future multipurpose room currently functions as an outdoor lunch/assembly area.
The design draws on the local California Craftsman vernacular throughout, with a Craftsman-style canopy structure marking the school’s entry. Exterior materials include stucco and fiber cement siding.