LPA Inc. Receives Honor for Cutting-Edge K-12 School Design
Sacramento, Calif. — The Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH) and the American Institute of Architects California Council (AIACC) recently announced LPA-designed e3 Civic High School has the distinction of receiving an award of honor.
Thought to be the first school in the nation to be located in a public library, San Diego’s LEED Gold e3 Civic High combines a sustainable and creative learning environment for ninth to 12th grade charter school students. The co-location of a school within a library offers extensive collaboration opportunities, as both support lifelong learning and literacy.
The award was announced at a ceremony during the 2015 CASH/AIACC Leroy F. Greene Design and Planning Awards Program in Sacramento, California last week. The K-12 school was recognized in the Specialized Facility category. The jury commented on the design solution, “This project creates an excellent, and beautifully executed, example of changing the way we think about school design. We can understand why students would think this is a cool school to attend.”
“The recognition of e3 Civic High by a jury of both educators and architects celebrates the collaborative design effort necessary to rethink how students could engage in learning in an exciting and vibrant environment,” said LPA Principal Wendy Rogers, FAIA. “The school exemplifies what's possible through innovation and that where we learn matters.”
Occupying the sixth and seventh floors of the library and embracing a flexible school day, internship opportunities and project-based learning, the design for e3 Civic High—which stands for Engage, Educate and Empower—demonstrates the value of creating personalized learning spaces.
The charter school is a project-based learning environment with spaces that support and inspire collaborative education and project development. “Studios are organized in villages clustered around a shared commons and teaming rooms,” explained LPA Associate and Interior Designer Kate Mraw. "The design principles for the learning environment centralized around three ideas: personalization, social connections and flexibility. For learning to happen everywhere, we understood that movement mattered—regardless of the primary function, secondary uses were explored, developed and designed.”
The design methodology uses highly-recycled and low maintenance materials, highly-efficient building systems and open areas having multiple uses. Each sustainable design strategy is described to students with signage and interactive displays throughout the campus. LPA also engaged the community in the design process through workshops, charrettes, image sharing and building tours.
Additional design highlights include a “living room” setting with flexible, comfortable furniture and controllable lighting called the Park; a central staircase which doubles as a social learning space; an interactive wall that students can write on, display projects and even sit on; and a centrally-located gallery lined with whiteboard surfaces and specialty lighting where students can share their work.
The school intentionally set within the urban environment. Currently more than 50 percent of the students in downtown San Diego commute to other high schools in surrounding areas. E3 Civic High, which is open to all, creates a sustainable environment that is walkable for future students.
Through a relationship between the City of San Diego, San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) and the San Diego Public Library Foundation, e3 Civic High School successfully ties education into the urban culture.
According to Jed Wallace, president and CEO of the California Charter School Association, “[e3 Civic High] will become a national model because of its innovative approach, stockholder collaboration and flexibility to meet student needs.”
Additionally, the University of San Diego's Mobile Technology Learning Center and the National Center for the Twenty-First Century Schoolhouse at San Diego State University are collaborating on a two-year research study on the educational design elements at e3 Civic High and its impact to the student and teacher experience and learning outcomes.