Sacred Heart Preparatory Academic and Arts Building, Atherton School, San Mateo County, Californian Architecture Photos
Sacred Heart Academic and Arts Building, Atherton, CA
August 6, 2021
Architects: WRNS Studio
Location: Atherton, San Mateo County, California, USA
Photos by Bruce Damonte
Sacred Heart William V. Campbell Academic and Arts Center
Established in 1898, the Sacred Heart Schools is a private Catholic school in Atherton, CA. The campus comprises the Lower School, Middle School and High School, which together serve approximately 1600 students grades pre-kindergarten through 12.
WRNS Studio’s work for Sacred Heart Schools began with the master plan and design of the school’s Pre-K through 8 campus that supports SHS’s mission to educate the whole child, to model social awareness, sustainability and community, and to foster interaction and cross-disciplinary learning. The Pre-K – 8 campus included four new buildings, including the award-winning Stevens Net Zero Library.
Most recently, WRNS Studio completed the new Academic and Arts Building, which serves as an interdisciplinary hub of activity housing career and counseling centers, a dance studio, maker spaces, quiet lounge, fine arts, ceramics, broadcast rooms, choral and band facilities, photography dark room, classrooms and administration spaces and a new a new energy-efficient multipurpose practice gym and events center. The building encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration with flexible design and massing that creates shared spaces for informal interaction, both inside and outside the classroom.
A series of multifunctional spaces—from learning studios on the second floor to makerspaces on the ground floor and common flexible spaces—provides opportunities for social engagement and mentorship. A full basement containing creative spaces including digital media and dark room, connects entire building. The heart of the school is the kitchen and dining space, which are used to teach students about nutrition. By bringing this diverse program under one roof, the building breaks down the barriers between sports, art, and tinkering, helping to foster a supportive, collaborative environment.
Natural light and indoor/ outdoor connections drove the design process. At-grade glass skylights at each entrance and skylights in large story spaces were used to reduce the need for artificial lighting. Open plans and transparent walls provide educational flexibility with visual connections to indoor and outdoor learning activities.
Pulling the classroom outside, adjacent to the band facilities is an amphitheater that flows into the landscape and doubles as an extension of the classroom as well as seating during team collaboration.
Landscape design helps support different types of learning experiences through the campus. Inside, the design team used natural material palette—brick, wood and metal–adding visual interest with details, such as a crinkled curtain in the dance studio, made of perforated aluminum skin.
Located between an existing sports field and a building containing classrooms, a lecture hall, and a cafeteria, the 11,800 square-foot practice gym was designed to be a flexible space that can easily transform to accommodate sports and events — from non-competition volleyball games to fashion shows and circus acts. Large glass “garage” doors open up on both sides of the building, creating a permeable indoor/outdoor space with a natural breezeway.
Sacred Heart Preparatory, Academic and Arts Building in California – Building Information
Pauline Souza, Adam Woltag, Natalie Kittner, Emily Jones, Diana Ford
Sacred Heart William V. Campbell Academic and Arts Center, San Mateo County, California images / information received 060821
Photographs: Bruce Damonte
Location: Atherton, San Mateo County, California, United States of America
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