The Spring Hill School

Project Description

The program for The Spring Hill was derived from the school’s unique STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) curriculum. The curriculum translated into an architectural program with a high amount of specialty learning spaces in addition to more traditional classrooms. The context and site provided additional inspiration by providing an opportunity to use a linear building form to create a pedestrian street with associated gathering spaces.

The buildings program was manipulated to create zones alternating between classrooms and shared resource labs and other service spaces. The alternating program elements are represented differently in order to create a series of porches that address the pedestrian street. Additionally, each classroom is provided with monumental doors to provide opportunities to expand into the exterior space and engage with outdoor learning spaces integrated into the landscape.

The building itself engages with its context by placing the monumental high bay spaces toward the street frontage and providing the indoor/outdoor dining area at the beginning of the pedestrian street to accommodate community events and engagement.

Inspiration for the building construction itself pulls from both the architectural precedents of Petaluma and the contemporary technology spaces aligned with the STEAM curriculum. The project utilizes a metal siding system that is sympathetic with the agricultural history of Petaluma. The structure itself uses a steel moment frame combined with exposed wood roof joists. The combined structural system provides the spatial flexibility of a contemporary structure with the aesthetic and acoustical benefits of a traditional wood structure. The exposed roof structure provides visual interest and improved acoustics without having to add additional or decorative finishes.

The Spring Hill School positions itself between the history of Petaluma and it’s future. It achieves a unique and high quality experience with an efficiency of mean. The Spring Hill School serves it’s students and the community by looking forward at what it means to create a community around the education of our future thinkers.

Design Challenge

The design challenge for The Spring Hill School was to provide an efficient, flexible and inspiring facility with STEAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Manufacturing) specific instructional space at a reasonable cost. The first major design decision to address this challenge was to utilize a unique structural system that not only provides flexibility for the instructional spaces within the building but also provides a design aesthetic inspired by the STEAM curriculum when exposed. The project uses a steel moment frame system as the primary structure with exposed wood roof joists . Exposing the steel moment frame and wood roof joists provides the spatial flexibility of a contemporary structure with the aesthetic and acoustical benefits of a traditional wood structure. I'm order to maximize the usable space for teaching, the classrooms open to the school’s internal pedestrian street with operable window walls. The pedestrian street incorporates individual spaces, intended to be used as secondary classrooms. The classrooms connection not the outdoors provides unique educational spaces for the students and maximizes usable space.

Physical Context

The Spring Hill School's site design uses the new building to create a  pedestrian pathway. It is this pedestrian street that connects the heart of the school. The pedestrian street pulls visitors in from the main entry point, taking them through the heart of the site and drawing them into the playfield and garden areas at the other end of the site. Native vegetation is used to define the outdoor classrooms. The building exterior combines a natural wood palette of vertical cedar with metal siding, both of which reference the agricultural precedents of the area.