Designed by Studio E Architects, High Tech High School is a 45,000 sqf charter school for 450 students in ninth through twelfth grade, and a recent names as one of the COTE 2011 Top Ten Projects. The school is situated on an eight acre site in southeastern Chula Vista overlooking the Otay River Valley and Mexico to the south. The design of the school reflects the charter school’s emphasis on three fundamental values – transparency, community and sustainability. The school is a combination of modular and site built construction. Classes commenced in January 2009 hosting a diverse student body of 440 students who began pursuit of a unique ‘hands-on’ curriculum in an innovative building crafted to their needs.
Architect: Studio E Architects
Location: 1945 Discovery Falls Drive, Chula Vista, California, USA
Landscape Architect: IVY Landscape
General Contractor: Bycor General Contractors
Project Area: 61,445 sqf
Project Year: 2009
Photographs: Jim Brady Architectural Photography
The High Tech High curriculum is project based and utilizes a vocational technique with academic content. Students work in teams and learn by making. This hands-on approach is supported by three building program components: classrooms around working studios, labs with working yards for art and science instruction and a commons for all school meetings, instruction and presentations. The building is organized around the gallery which links the grade neighborhoods and all the common uses. This gallery stretches east to west with individual grade studios along its southern edge. Courtyards are placed at these hinge points in the plan inviting fresh air and daylight into the school while providing additional instructional/work space.
The school was designed and built in 18 months for $15,000,000 including all site costs. This tight schedule lead the team to employ modular building components that could be constructed offsite while grading and foundation work was done onsite. While permitting the schedule to collapse, this strategy did present challenges to assuring that quality control was maintained by the manufacture.
The design intention was to create a school that utilized the minimum amount of energy while contributing to its pedagogical aims. This was accomplished by starting with “first principles” which is defined as those that don’t require a technological fix. The building was sited to capture the solar exposure for energy generation while also taking best advantage of the cooling prevailing breezes. Unwelcome solar penetration was properly shaded. Controlled daylight was captured. In short, the plan was a response to the question “how would someone have arranged this building before the advent of air conditioning?”
Specifically the building was perforated by courtyards to allow cross ventilation and daylighting. Sloping roof were tilted to the south to maximize their solar exposure for photovoltaic arrays. West facing walls were minimized and were screened form the late afternoon sun.
In addition to these measures the following were also incorporated:
- Cool roof (heat island reduction)
- Daylighting optimization
- Enhanced acoustical performance measures
- High efficiency central plant HVAC
- High efficiency glazing package
- Locally sourced building components and materials
- High recycled content material selections
- Photovoltaic system
- Real time electronic monitoring of building energy use displayed at school lobby
- On-site recycling, composting and vermiculture areas
- Low water use landscaping
- School-initiated ride-share/carpooling program
- Water saving plumbing fixtures
- On-site shower facilities to encourage staff bicycling to work
- The school’s PV system generates 80% of the electrical energy demand.
- Reclaimed water is used for 100% of the site’s irrigation needs.
- The project demands 52% less water than the EPAct-1992 baseline, equating to a savings of $5,000 per year in operating costs.
- Where applicable, 90% or more of all equipment purchased is Energy Star qualified.
- 86% of the building is daylit. 88% of the building can be ventilated and cooled with operable windows.
- The project exceeds California Energy Code requirements by 54%.
- The contractors diverted 83% of all construction waste from the landfill.