Sloping almost 100 feet from the main driveway entrance to the athletic fields below, the site for this grades 9-12 high school affords many design opportunities. Seen from the valley below, the massive structure steps imposingly down the hillside, reflecting community pride while working in concert with the natural topography. Seen from the front entrance at the ASSOCIATED FIRMSBLM ArchitectsCOST PER SQ FT$132.31FEATURED IN2000 Architectural Portfolio of four levels, the massiveness is partially hidden, creating a less intimidating appearance. Locating the tall, full-fly stage and the double-level gymnasium down one level, somewhat contained within the gently sloping roofline, reinforces the human scale from the main entry side.
The classrooms and labs, where students and teachers spend most of the school day, are in multistory classroom wings. There, windows capture dramatic views of the rolling countryside. The sloping site allowed for three finished academic floors above and one unfinished floor level below, providing for future expansion of about 600 additional students. Each classroom level functions as a mostly self-contained, multigrade academic house with its own guidance and administrative spaces, science labs, special-needs classroom, computer labs, teacher-planning areas and accent colors. This makes what could have been a large, anonymous building more user-friendly. The layout is flexible enough to function in a traditional departmental structure. Spacious, central stairways facilitate movement between floors for morning arrival, afternoon departure and travel to art, technology, media center, music, dining, athletic and facilities on the upper two levels.
Zoned to allow access into the auditorium, lecture hall, gymnasium or cafeteria without providing access into the general classroom areas, the building is used virtually every day of the week until late into the evening. Computer access is assured with eight general and special-purpose computer labs, plus multiple computer ports in every classroom, lab and teacher workspace. Durable interior materials, including porcelain ceramic floor tile, masonry, wall tile and abuse-resistant ceilings, were selected for heavy-use areas such as corridors, entries, food service, commons spaces, physical education and technology education. Flexible drywall partitions and lower-cost floor finishes were selected for supervised, protected areas such as inside classrooms and offices. The exterior is a durable and economical multicolor combination of brick and concrete masonry units.
Photographer: ©David Sundberg/Esto