2022 AIA CA DESIGN AWARDS
Special Commendation: Design for Discovery
Architect: LPA Design Studios
Project Location: Menlo Park. California
Photographer: Jason O’Rear
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 400 student, three-story TIDE Academy, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics)-focused public high school, reimagines the traditional campus to better support career learning and foster connections with local institutions. Located on a two-acre site in a rapidly changing industrial area, the campus promotes student choice, critical thinking and inquiry-based learning, as well as the interdisciplinary instruction necessary to support STEAM curriculums.
“Strong stewardship and great, dynamic, thoughtful design.” – 2022 Design Awards Jury
Reflecting the spirit of innovation in the Silicon Valley, TIDE Academy is designed to attract interest in STEAM. A glazed north facade orients to the public and places a premium on highlighting the educational process. Functional and flexible exterior spaces serve a variety of activities from small group study to whole school gatherings. The campus organizing element is a tiered courtyard that offers the school a large space for assembly, events, and social activities.
As a public high school TIDE academy serves a wide variety of students including low income, minority students or students that simply didn’t thrive in large comprehensive schools. The school is open to any student in the district to enroll. If capacity is met, then admission is determined by a lottery.
TIDE Academy sits on a small 2-acre site which required a minimized footprint. The design reduces parking by 75% below a typical high school. Located one half mile from the San Francisco Bay, the design includes treatment for both quality and quantity for 100% of site stormwater. Outdoor spaces and landscaping (even trees!) are provided at all three levels. Native and drought tolerant landscaping are provided throughout the site.
TIDE Academy sits less a quarter of a mile for the San Francisco Bay. As such, the site features 100% treatment of stormwater for both quality and quantity. In addition, with an expecting rise on storm surge levels due to global warming, the school was elevated 3’ from existing and primary electrical services into the building raised another 3’ as a resilience strategy. The design features native low water use landscaping and low water use fixtures throughout.
The bay area is one of the most expensive places on earth to build. Land is expensive and hard to find. To build new schools, cash strapped school districts must think differently. The planning for TIDE Academy started with finding an affordable site in an unlikely location. Programming focused on flexible, multi-use spaces that could do double duty and finding community resources to supplement what could not be built. Design focused on capitalizing on a benign Mediterranean climate to minimize what needed to be enclosed and conditioned while making the most of exterior spaces to support a variety of uses.
The design of TIDE Academy focused on three primary strategies to reduce energy usage. One, the massing is shaped and oriented to be compact and to self-shade. Two, enclosed, conditioned spaces are minimized by programming flexible, multi-use learning spaces and utilizing exterior circulation and courtyard spaces to supplement enclosed spaces. Three, a performative, exterior, aluminum scrim wraps the building to shade glazing. These strategies resulted in a 67% reduction in energy use from baseline. If calculated to account for spaces that would otherwise have been enclose and conditioned the reduction would be much higher.
The design of TIDE Academy sustains wellness through community, connectedness, and movement. The intimate nature of the school has already fostered a culture of caring and belonginess. The compact design supports student’s individual modes of learning and socializing with diversity of space. The flexible design permits classes to combine, groups to break out and individuals to find a quite spot. The design of the school is at its core connected to the community. It is both a resource for the community and utilizes resources in the community, such as local parks and libraries. Active design informed the school’s three-story courtyard.
The ethos for TIDE Academy is doing more with less. TIDE’s utilization of existing community resources meant building less. TIDE’s small site meant supporting density where density is needed and building less. TIDE’s flexible, multi-model spaces that do double duty meant building less. TIDE’s learning spaces feature raw industry-like spaces that required less to build.
TIDE’s mission states “…Students grapple with the complexity of systems thinking to create dynamic and socially just solutions to our world’s known and unknown challenges…”
TIDE is built in a community quickly changing from light industrial to residential and technology. The design of TIDE reflects this change. An outwardly focus is meant to integrate the school into the nature of its future community, to attract student and to attract industry partnerships
A variety of flexible spaces that can expand and contract provides for future flexibility to meet future changes to pedagogy.
TIDE’s site was elevated 3 feet and primary electrical was elevated an additional 3 feet to account for future storm surge potential due to sea level rise.
A full POE is planned but has been delayed due to concerns about non-essential people on site due to covid19. Post occupancy engagement included reviewing a years’ worth or both energy and water usage (which indicated better that expected performance), feedback from the school’s principal and on-site observations.
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