West Heritage Elementary School
This is a school that had become a disheveled mess over time. Half of it was built with permanent construction. Half was a collection of relocatable classrooms.
My boss sat me down at a large conference table with a site plan and some basic instructions and said, "Fix it."
The criteria were:
1. Reorganize the 24 existing classrooms to provide better flow and help to alleviate sound pollution from the school quad.
2. Remove half of the large cypress trees lining the play area and add in a new fire lane entrance
3. Add space for 3 new classrooms
4. Rearrange all of the hardcourt sports to one side of the school play area
5. Add new plaster exterior in school district chosen color scheme
(Now, this school district had first requested all classrooms be replaced by new two-story prefab classroom buildings, which they later rejected. I’ve included that design here as well)
My boss gave an example of lining the egg-shaped school site with the classrooms to make room for more to get my juices flowing as this was the biggest project I’d been trusted with at that time.
After a little playing around with classroom templates, I came up with a layout that followed the sites shape, but used the space to create outdoor corridors that could be lined with trees and a grassed berm for the kids to enjoy. They are also positioned back to back and spaced in such a way where there is private enclosed access to all of the air conditioning units attached to the back of each building and could easily be used for utility runs for the rows of classrooms.
I designed the site, did minor site evaluations, managed the engineer specialists and took the project through to state approval. I’ve measured 450,000 sf buildings for new engineering designs, but this so far is my favorite large design project I’ve had the privilege to work on.