Architects: Darden Architects
Location: Riverbank, California, United States
Principal In Charge: Martin Dietz
Project Architect: Antonio Avila
Project Designers: Alvaro Velasquez, Martin Illic, Mauricio Nachmann
Project Area: 29,039 sq ft
Photographs: Mullins Studio, Bill Wood
Riverbank High School is the only high school in the small community of Riverbank. The high school has had a need for major improvements in its gymnasium and locker facilities for over 30 years. The new facility instills pride in the community, and fill a great need. The program includes a large Gymnasium, locker and shower facilities, team rooms, an athletic training room, coach’s offices, and a grand entry lobby with spectator amenities. The planning committee, working with the architect, decided early in the design process to take full advantage of the potential to naturally light the gymnasium. The energy savings have dramatically reduced operating costs and enhanced the quality of light within the building.
Locating the building along an east to west axis provided the best opportunity to take maximum advantage of north light into the building entry lobby with minimal solar heat gain. With this orientation the building also provides a strong yet transparent “front” to visitors parking to the north. In addition, running the building along the east to west axis allows the east end of the building to extend to the existing high school football stadium. The gym’s new snack bar and restrooms were designed to service both the gymnasium and the football stadium. The west end of the building house the locker and shower portions of the building and are closer in proximity to the heart of the campus; the most convenient location for the physical education programs.
The Gymnasium itself is lit with 20 individual skylights. These skylights are designed with reflective interior shafts and a diffusing internal lens for effective daylight distribution within the gymnasium. The skylights are also designed with operable louvers to dim or darken the gym during the daytime hours for special events if required. Skylights are dual glazed with low emissivity glazing to minimize the potential heat gain. No supplemental lighting is required during daytime use of the gymnasium, which significantly reduces energy costs.
Once the site planning was completed, 3D modeling software was used to study the volumetric composition further. Computer aided design tools were utilized to study the solar effects of the late afternoon sun on the lobby entry glass and to determine an effective response. A vertical solar screen wall was introduced on the west side of the main entry to shade the lobby glass from the harsh west afternoon sun, wind and rain. The entire composition was studied in three dimensions, and a simple linear building form was finalized. The larger gymnasium volume is positioned on top of a contrasting linear lower building element that runs from east to west. This large gymnasium volume is the landmark of the composition. The Gymnasium is opened to the north through a transparent lobby, maximizing light and creating a visually attractive main public entry point for the event center. This arrangement also responds to the visual transparency requested by the design committee between the gymnasium, lobby and exterior of the building.
The building’s final design is a response to its environment, the site and the functional needs of the high school. The building successfully addresses the School Board’s stated goal of creating a building that will effectively make a strong improvement in the physical education and athletic offerings on campus, and be a symbol of pride in the high school and community it serves.