Special Commendation: Design for Discovery

TIDE Academy

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

Design for Integration

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.

Design for Equitable Communities

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.

Design for Ecosystems

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.

Design for Water

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.

Design for Economy

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.

Design for Energy

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.

Design for Well-being

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.

Design for Resources

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.

Design for Change

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.

Design for Discovery

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.

AIA California
AIA California
AIA California is dedicated to serving its members, and uniting all architecture professionals in the design of a more just, equitable and resilient future through advocacy, education and political action. It celebrates more than 75 years of service and, today, is composed of more than 11,000 members across the state.

We use cookies to personalize content, to provide social media features and to analyze our traffic.
By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies.