Urban HS

Educational · Undisclosed


Private Commission

150,000 SF


The project is located at a challenging site due to its inherent size and proportion constrictions. In order to properly accommodate the program within the site, the building’s form factor evolved to be an efficient compact shape that holds within both core academic programs as well as support spaces such as the gymatorium, athletic facilities, blackbox theater and miscellaneous administrative spaces. The core goals for the project has been to a optimize the program within the buildings form factor, the reconciliation of the peculiar site conditions and attention to the news calls neighbors, and the creation of a meaningful, relevant building that could become a referential landmark for the community.

The program has been distributed vertically into two large blocks. The lower levels – from the ground floor
through the fourth floor – contain the common and public areas of the building, such as the administrative
suite, cafeteria, gymnatorium, library, and black box theater, while the upper program block contains core
academic spaces such as classrooms and laboratories. The required parking needed for a High School of
this magnitude, is envisioned to be underground. The ground level program is organized in relation with
the site distribution and open to the four distinct exterior programmed areas, described in the site
configuration concept section. By doing so, the ground level programmatic distribution promotes
a continuous visual connection between interior and exterior uses.

To take full advantage of the opportunities the site offers and manage its challenges, a unique
site organization is proposed, which consequentially responds to the distinctive conditions that
the building’s footprint presents. The building’s footprint is proposed to be rotated in relation to
the city’s organizational northsouth grid. The result is a building that offers two equally relevant entry
alternatives and divides the site into four distinct areas. After rotating the building, the following
ample exterior program areas are created: A main access which is located along the northeast
elevation, a secondary access is placed in the northwest elevation in convenient, close proximity
to the proposed bus drop-off area, an area dedicated to back of house program and a final
area designated for social and community gathering with garden spaces.

The building’s massing strategy follows the conceptual decision to create a single, compact volume that can emphasize the building’s identity and create an efficient, cost-effective volumetric solution to the complex program and desired adjacencies required for the project. The building’s exterior expression has two distinct characteristics. At ground level the building aims to be as open as possible to the four different plazas and landscape areas surrounding the volume. Consequently, the chosen materiality around the entire perimeter of the building at ground floor level will be a glass curtainwall. The specific perimeter conditions requiring a transparent, translucent, or opaque response will be resolved through the use of glass, film and shadow box construction respectively. By contrast, the upper volume has been designed in metal to create a rich, complex yet cost effective solution. This is achieved through three key facade articulation operations: depth through material layering, organizational randomness, and color highlighting.

A. Depth through material layering: The facade is proposed to be comprised of two distinct exterior layers. An insulated metal panel system that will provide the building with the required protection from the elements and a perforated metal screen intended to create the depth and visual complexity necessary for the building’s volume to present an open and hospitable environment to its users as well as providing a friendly, neighborly appeal to the surrounding community.

B. Organizational randomness: The windows and various penetrations to the facade have been carefully articulated around the building’s elevations in such as way so as to portray a non-linear expression favoring a monolithic and identifiable volumetric expression while avoiding monotonous, repetitive patterns.

C. Color highlighting: Color is utilized around the building to symbolize the multicultural nature of Public Schools and its commitment to inclusion and unity. In addition, the use of color will provide an additional level of identity for students and community alike.

Project Team

  • Luis Collado
  • Jose Luis de la Fuente
  • Beatriz Gonzalez
  • Brian Koehler
  • Brian Rains
  • Gonzalo Rojas
  • Ana Sánchez Iza
  • Wade Splinter