School Climate & Safety

Building Blocks

November 01, 2003 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Set in corrugated metal and concrete, two schools on opposite sides of the country represent architectural flights of fancy—and more literal ones as well. At one, Jennifer Lopez landed in the center of the quad in a helicopter to shoot a scene for the movie The Cell. At the other, the buildings themselves were airborne, their prefabricated halves hoisted into place by a crane.

Flash and function, permanence and portability. Shaped in part by budgetary pressures and state mandates, each set of buildings offers a wildly different take on what the school of tomorrow might look like.


—Photos by Brian Finke

Name: Diamond Ranch High School
Location: Pomona, California
Designer: Thom Mayne, Morphosis
Size: 150,000 square feet
Students: 1,900
Cost: $47.2 million overall, including $1 for donated hilltop site
Rationale: Architects were asked for a design that reflects the concepts of “optimism, flexibility, and personalization.”

Designed by Thom Mayne, Diamond Ranch High School in Pomona, California [see pages 30-31], has won architectural awards, starred in dozens of movies and commercials, and inspired a book about its construction—all while adhering to the same budgetary restraints placed on all California public schools. Principal David Linzey is quick to acknowledge Diamond Ranch’s unique architecture—two buildings decked out with jagged ridges of corrugated metal perched on a hilltop overlooking the Pomona Valley. At the same time, he points to its academic credentials, including its recent selection as a California Distinguished School, and the good relations among its diverse student body as proof that appearance is a means to an end. He says that ample natural light makes it easier for students to take notes as teachers lecture using the school’s 55 electronic projectors, that the breathtaking vistas inspire creativity, and that the football-field-length center quad provides a gathering place for the entire school.

“One student actually made the comment that the architecture all points upward, and that opens their minds,” Linzey adds. “That’s a pretty wild comment from a kid.”


—Photos by Andrew Itkoff

Name: Concretables
Location: 750 units at dozens of schools across Florida, including Palm Beach Gardens High School
Designer: Wally Sanger, Royal Concrete Concepts
Size: 864 to 960 square feet per unit, including optional bathroom
Students: Typically 25 per classroom
Cost: Varies by specifications, but averages $60,000 per unit
Rationale: Each concretable provides a portable structure that meets state building codes and has the look and feel of a permanent building.

On the other side of the country, at Palm Beach Gardens High School, in Florida, the portable buildings that Wally Sanger designed [see pages 32-33] aren’t likely to be featured in Architectural Digest anytime soon. But they, too, fill needs brought about by the vagaries of tropical weather and a new state constitutional amendment limiting class sizes. Called “concretables,” a term Sanger has trademarked, the modular buildings are constructed using a combination of concrete and polystyrene foam, giving the structures the strength to resist hurricane-force winds while remaining light enough to be carried on a truck.

What the concretables lack in visual excitement, they make up for with their open, bright classrooms, a definite improvement over more typical trailer- size portables and even aging schools, says Dean Locke, chief operating officer of Royal Concrete Concepts, in Palm Beach. In fact, much of the company’s business involves replacing worn-out portable classrooms across the state with concretables, which appear poised to capture a sizable chunk of the projected$4 billion needed to comply with the class-size amendment approved by Florida voters in 2002.

“They’re permanent structures,” Locke says. “In many cases, they have a greater structural capacity than the school.” In other words, they’re here to stay.

—Mark Toner


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School Climate & Safety What the Research Says A Hallmark of School Shooters: Long History of Social Rejection
New research finds that shooters in K-12 schools are more often "failed joiners" than loners.
5 min read
Butler County Sheriff Deputies stand on the scene at Madison Local Schools, in Madison Township in Butler County, Ohio, after a school shooting on Feb. 29, 2016.
Sheriff deputies were on the scene of a shooting at Madison Local Schools, in Butler County, Ohio, in 2016.
Cara Owsley/The Cincinnati Enquirer via AP
School Climate & Safety 4 Myths About Suspensions That Could Hurt Students Long Term
New longitudinal research shows that longer in- and out-of-school suspensions have severe consequences for students.
5 min read
Image of a student sitting at a desk in a school hallway.
Jupiterimages/Getty
School Climate & Safety Photos The Tense and Joyous Start to the 2021 School Year, in Photos
Students are headed back to school with the threat of the Delta variant looming. How is this playing out across the country? Take a look.
School Climate & Safety Former NRA President Promotes Gun Rights at Fake Graduation Set Up by Parkland Parents
A former NRA president invited to give a commencement address to a school that doesn’t exist was set up to make a point about gun violence.
Lisa J. Huriash, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
2 min read
David Keene, chairman of the American Conservative Union, speaks during the CPAC meeting in Washington on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2010.
David Keene, the former president of the NRA, promoted gun rights in a speech he thought was a rehearsal for a commencement address to graduating students in Las Vegas. The invitation to give the speech was a set up by Parkland parents whose son was killed in the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP