Gila Ridge High School provides an innovative and environmentally responsive design resulting from a lively collaboration of stakeholders. The district determined the need for the new building, interviewed architects, and then set up a group to begin defining the program for a student-centered facility.
The programming and design committee CAPACITY1,800COST PER SQ FT$184.00FEATURED IN2008 Architectural Portfolio administration, facilities/maintenance personnel, department heads and teachers from the existing four comprehensive high schools; parents; and most important, students. Small learning communities were requested from all stakeholders—even the science teachers were willing to separate labs to achieve this goal.
Sustainable measures incorporated into the design include the careful and conscious orientation of the building along the east-west axis (all classrooms have only south- or north-facing fenestration); the use of locally produced and low-VOC building materials; and the selection of a chilled-water mechanical system for cooling, rather than the package rooftop units commonly used in the area. Electrically, the building uses multi-level lighting options and occupancy sensors within individual spaces to accommodate different classroom activities, as well as save energy. Classroom daylighting was modeled, and sloped ceilings with high light reflectance were used to draw natural light deep into each classroom. The building envelope design, including the use of high-performance glazing and light-colored exterior materials, also contributes to this exceptionally conscientious facility.