Delivered on an extremely modest budget, the new Caliber Schools ChangeMakers Academy harnesses color and subtle design strategies to transform an otherwise unconventional yet unremarkable tilting concrete structure, while harnessing its creative potential as a building agent. community.
Serving more than 1,000 students on two campuses, Caliber Public Schools is a chartered organization whose mission is to change the experience, expectations and outcomes of students in historically underserved communities and to provide them with a rigorous education of the kindergarten through 12th grade so they can enter a four-year college without remediation. The client asked TEF to develop a new TK-8 school to support planned growth beyond the capacity of its existing school in Richmond, CA.
Located on a four-acre site in Vallejo, the two-story, 65,300-square-foot school was built for $9.4 million, or $144 per square foot, less than half the cost of a building typical business. The restricted budget led to its economical and sober design: a compact reinforced concrete tarpaulin with an interior courtyard. A two-story, semi-transparent “box”—delineating a hall and second-story lecture hall—bisects the south elevation, breaking the massive wall plane, while articulating the school’s main entrance. The strategic transparency along the perimeter of the first level, the playful rhythm of the windows on the second floor, and the prominence of the structure create the building’s character, rhythm, pattern, scale, and texture. The project’s light palette responded to the client’s desire for a colorful and identifiable structure while providing a color orientation system that matches the location of ground floor facilities: K-1 grades are blue, grades 2-3 are green and the multipurpose room, yellow.
A light-filled two-story function room and service anchor the northeast corner of the building. Lower-level “classroom suites”, a shared “indoor/outdoor” common area with a garage door that opens to the playground, and upper-level classroom centers that combine seminar rooms and adjacent resting spaces, meet various learning needs and maximize the long term. flexibility.
The central courtyard defines the “heart” of the campus and provides ample natural light and natural ventilation to classrooms and interior hallways. It features a grand staircase that doubles as a seat to encourage social interaction and support school gatherings. The central space is animated by a graphic mural – a community service project by TEF in collaboration with Project Color Corps. Completed over the summer, TEF staff, Project Color Corps volunteers, and families from Caliber Schools worked together to bring the spectacular result to fruition. The process engaged students for several months and galvanized families on painting day.
Additional components of the program include the reception, parents’ bedroom, administrative offices, teachers’ workroom and clinic.
The TEF design team
Douglas Tom, FAIA, Director
Stéphane Simon, project manager
Joanna Lo, project architect
Joelle Collier, project architect
Alex Davies, Project Designer
Architect: TEF Design
Contractor: Hilbers Inc.
Structure: BKG structural engineers
Mechanical/Electrical/Plumbing: MHC Engineers, Inc.
Civil Engineer: CSW | ST2
Landscape: Stephen Wheeler Landscape Architects
Lighting: Architecture + Light
Wall paint/color consultant: Project Color Corps