Jones Studio was selected in 2004 to design a new space for the special Desiderata Alternative Program. This 125 student school is dedicated to helping teens with emotional disorders attain a high school education as well as learn basic life skills. Moving the school from a 1920’s historic building, “Desi” would be relocated into an industrial building. The 30,000 sqf program entailed a complete build-out after gutting the entire interior. A wide variety of program elements from administrative offices, classrooms, food preparation, therapy areas, and fitness rooms are arranged for optimal function within the existing shell. The architects chose to add exterior planted courtyards within the existing building’s walls in order to create outdoor classrooms and bring in natural light. Eight-foot square skylights take advantage of the industrial building’s high, wood roof structure to distribute natural light to multiple classroom clerestories. Colored glazing and a variety of paint colors de-institutionalize the building and create a rich, varied learning environment for the children.
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