In an increasingly complex world, it’s more important than ever that our future leaders, neighbors, and workers have the ability to understand and solve the challenges of today and tomorrow, and to meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, building students’ skills, content knowledge, and fluency in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, known as STEM fields. With this inspiration, the Los Alamitos Unified School District set its sights on establishing a curriculum and facility to support this program, for their award-winning singular high school.
Located in Orange County, California, Los Alamitos High School has an average enrollment of over 3200 students in its long-standing legacy of excellence, in the District’s “Four A’s”: Academics, Athletics, Activities, and the Arts, and has received such notable recognitions as the US Dept. of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, as well as being designated a California Distinguished School and California Gold Ribbon School.
The project program was formed as a collaborative effort with Los Alamitos Unified School District, educational stakeholders, business partners, community members, and local community colleges. The design acknowledges the district’s desire to produce a long-term solution for this high-performance environment, as well as to replace aging campus facilities predominantly 50 years old.
As part of the District’s 2018 Measure G facilities improvement bond measure, the District proposed to demolish the existing Los Alamitos High School Administration and Media Center buildings to pave the way for a new multistory Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) classroom building that will provide students and staff modern facilities that will support the campus for the next 50 years.
The new 3-story, 86,000 GSF building will replace a majority of the 30 existing portable classrooms with permanent facilities, accommodate the entire Science department, and will be located at the front of the campus to enhance school safety and improve vehicular access.
The ground floor of the new building will house student-services program spaces that include Administration, Health Services, Counseling Services, Campus Discipline & Safety, Campus Information Technologies Support, Media Center, and Career Center. Specialized Career Technical Education (CTE) instruction spaces are also located on the ground floor for Computer Technologies pathways focused on computer programming and applied engineering (robotics). The large shaded courtyards and stadium seating areas function as outdoor opportunities for flexible learning and social activities.
The two upper floors of the building will house 15 general classrooms, 15 science classrooms and associated student and staff support spaces, including dedicated Professional Learning Community (PLC) spaces on each floor for enhanced collaboration between teaching disciplines.
As an architectural expression of this inspirational program, the large framed “Window of Opportunity” above the main entry is in the school’s brand signature royal blue color, presenting a new public face to the community as it welcomes curious minds, with the collective goal of elevating the civic identity of the school to a post-secondary standard. A light and bright building envelope, washing interior spaces with natural daylight from every elevation, the visual texture is enhanced by a timeless palette of masonry, steel, glass, and concrete which integrates with existing campus buildings, and complements adjacent outdoor landscaped areas.
Standing as a beacon of achievement in the community, this new facility learning environment, befitting the high-performing standards of Los Alamitos High School’s teachers and students, will prepare tomorrow’s leaders for great success beyond the classroom, wherever life takes them.