The Urban School
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The Urban School

August 6, 2015
While working with Urban High School, understanding the culture of the school and how they interact as students, how they occupy their current Page Street Campus as well as the school’s place in the city, was key to designing their New Academic and Wellness Center. Urban’s current campus is a maze of buildings which were developed over many years starting in the late 1960’s. The students inhabit their small spaces finding any nook and cranny to gather as a group, or to sit individually and study. In many ways their existing campus embodies the surrounding haight ashbury neighborhood.

Located across the street from the Page Street campus, the site for the new academic center is squeezed on the east, west and south sides by the urban context of the Haight Ashbury district; a mix of historic and not so historic residential buildings and a large catholic church built in the early 1890’s . To the north, the site fronts a very busy commuter street which is flanked by a beautiful, wooded, extension of the city’s Golden Gate park called the Panhandle.
The new academic and wellness center is accessed from the current campus via a pedestrian pathway from the south and towards the park Panhandle. The quality of the light on the trees in the park panhandle filters through the multi-layered spaces and draws you through the southwest courtyard and into the two level student commons. The light filled commons looks out onto a full size gymnasium/event center, with both working together to create a social and activity center of the entire building. Serving the student commons is an organic kitchen which serves the building for daily and event use.

Fronting the park are a series of seven classrooms on the 2nd and 3rd whose windows frame the trees and outdoor surroundings creating a calming reflective space to learn. The openness of the building, where the classrooms overlook the gymnasium overlap academics and athletics uses which visually connects their activities and culturally bonds Urban to the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. The mutli-layered building has a diversity of spaces that can be utilized for group gatherings and individual study continuing the culture of the Urban student body.
An additional layer of connection to the city happens at the roof level with a green roof, turf field and outdoor student commons. This space overlooks the Panhandle to the north, Sutro tower to the south and a view of the city framed within the residential buildings which surround the New Academic and Wellness Center.

Location/Year

San Francisco, CA / 2016

Project Type

Private Independent K-12 School

Square Footage

63,600 sf

Project Team

Dwight Long, Principal-in-Charge

Senior Project Manager

Kami Kinkaid

Job Captain

Matt Covall, LEED AP

Design Team

Lexie Ierace, Meaghan Dufford

Photographic Credits

David Wakely

Project Scope

Full Architectural Services

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