St. Thomas the Apostle School / Griffin Enright Architects

  • 06 Dec 2012
  • Educational Selected Works
© Benny Chan

Architects: Griffin Enright Architects
Location: , California, USA
Architects In Charge: John Enright, Margaret Griffin
Year: 2010
Photographs: Benny Chan

© Benny Chan

This K-8 Catholic school in a densely populated part of the city sits on an extremely small site.  The project is designed to achieve the maximum effect with limited resources, working with an economy of means to turn every constraint into an architectural opportunity.

© Benny Chan

A new pedestrian entry for students and families occurs along a ramp (an over-scaled, required handicap ramp) that rises up to the middle of the site and arrives in a large Urban Porch. This space will become a new nexus for the school, functioning in a variety of different ways including; accommodating an outdoor lunchroom, entry to the school, entry to the library, a second story balcony accessed from the new art room and existing classrooms above. The balcony will also provide become a pulpit / lectern for the larger religious occasions such as Easter.  The Urban Porch provides a new identity for the school and parish within the City.

© Benny Chan

A new playground is stacked over parking, and a new driveway wraps around the perimeter of the site, providing a fire lane, a buffer for the school community, and an on-site drop-off in front of the ‘Urban Porch’.  The new building, building housing a gym/multipurpose room, art room and library, is separated from the existing one to accommodate a phased construction and to allow light to reach the former basement of the existing building. The basement of the existing building was excavated providing new outdoor play areas for K, 1st, 2nd grades that is buffered from the older kids. Bridges, a stair and a new elevator (which upgrades ADA for the existing building) connect the buildings and engage the covered outdoor space.  Off-the-shelf trusses cantilever to create shaded outdoor gathering spaces, as part of a simple palate of cost-effective materials.

First Floor Plan

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "St. Thomas the Apostle School / Griffin Enright Architects" 06 Dec 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <>
  • Dorian

    Looks great!