Cupertino High School Science & Classroom Folia Complex
Cupertino High School (CHS), one of the city’s highest performing public high schools, unveiled this year three new two-story classroom structures to support its growing enrollment and STEM (science, technology, engineering math) curriculum.
Utilizing Measure K school bond funding, Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) set out to build a new, custom Science & Classroom building at CHS. Quickly realizing its budget would not support its ambitions, the project team, which has worked in tandem on many CHS projects over the years, proposed their innovative building solution called Folia (www.buildfolia.com). What was originally imagined as a one-building project became a three-building – also customized – Science & Classroom Complex that the team dubbed the “Folia Complex,” and was ultimately delivered with large cost and time savings.
Folia is a two-story prefabricated steel classroom building that offers a flexible alternative to custom designed and modular buildings. It was quickly realized that Folia was the cost- and schedule-efficient solution that wouldn’t compromise the quality that FUHSD required.
These are no ordinary pre-engineered buildings. What separates them from the modular pack is that Folia was designed to be ultra-flexible from a design and user standpoint, and it brings sustainable/green features to the forefront. CHS’s Folia Complex exceeds the requirements of the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) criteria and will achieve CHPS Designed recognition for sustainability and learning environment quality. It is CALGreen and Energy Code compliant, solar-ready and Net Zero Energy-capable.
This is the first Folia project of its kind: three classroom buildings, totaling 39,000 square feet, including outdoor learning areas, break-out spaces and restrooms, delivered in just nine months – one year ahead of the original schedule and for $3 million under budget.
Design ChallengeFolia is a highly collaborative endeavor, which lent itself well to the lease-leaseback delivery of the Folia Complex at CHS. The feedback loop between the architect, contractor, and structural engineer was constant, and the communication with subcontractors, partners and FUHSD started early and was open and transparent throughout. Highly efficient, this enabled a more streamlined, successful design and construction process, ultimately meeting the District’s goal of completing the project in less than one school year.
At the end of the Schematic Design phase of the project, the original design was significantly over budget. Additionally, increasing enrollment was resulting in CHS needing additional classrooms sooner than originally anticipated. The design of the building was thus changed to utilize Folia. This resulted in a savings of more than $3 million and an accelerated project schedule, enabling the buildings to be completed a year ahead of schedule.
To implement the change in design, one of the biggest challenges was to provide the detailed building program requirements within the confines of a pre-engineered building system. The design and construction team worked closely with the school’s Science Department to create a custom Folia building that could accommodate three chemistry labs with shared prep space on each level to meet their educational program needs. This required creative solutions from the structural and mechanical engineers as well to modify the systems to accommodate the new layout in a short timeframe.
While flexibility isn’t typically associated with modular structures, Folia’s interior configurations can be easily adapted. Designed specifically for CHS’s needs, the Folia Complex’s 1,920 square-foot Robotics Lab was created simply by eliminating the wall in between two standard-sized classrooms. Additionally, to meet CHS’ science programming desires, Folia’s panelization was leveraged to design a custom, two-story building containing three science classrooms with shared prep space on each floor. This enabled significant amounts of off-site prefabrication, saving both time and money.
Physical ContextThe goal of this project was to create a modern, innovative classroom and science lab building to meet specific programming requirements of a high performing and growing high school. The result is a carefully designed complex spanning 22 classrooms, six science labs and one career technology and robotics lab, as well as a variety of support spaces.
Designed to exceed the requirements of the CHPS Criteria, the Folia Complex will achieve CHPS Designed recognition for sustainability and learning environment quality. Ventilation, daylighting, low emitting materials and other design features were employed to enhance learning.
One of the most prominent features is the large amount of glazing in each classroom. Large sections of floor to ceiling curtain walls in each classroom are fully equipped with exterior sun shades and blinds to provide balanced daylight throughout the day. Operable sections allow for natural ventilation, which has been attributed to optimal learning and health.
When planning for the integration of the new buildings, the design team also took into consideration how the campus’ outdoor elements could play a part in creating a blended look. The existing older buildings were separated by uncoordinated and dour outdoor spaces, but with a few changes, some as simple as repainting mismatched buildings, a unified feeling was achieved. Planned spaces for such elements as trash cans, bike parking and picnic tables create a sense of order while serving a functional purpose. Elements such as seat walls, site lighting and site furniture (often adjacent to plantings) provide pleasant student gathering areas. Finally, a common ground plane of new paving and plantings solves accessibility and drainage issues.
Aesthetically showcasing Folia’s overall flexibility, the Folia Complex is well-aligned with the existing architecture on the CHS campus. It fits in seamlessly with the school’s existing buildings and its modern flair is representative of neighboring buildings located throughout the Silicon Valley.