Jeffrey M Kalban & Associates's new project binds education to the environment
The 14,000 sq ft academic hall is one piece of a multi-phase master plan that delicately weaves the school’s needs through a restored natural setting. The architects and their consultants developed a constraints map identifying the more than 500 live oaks and their protected zones, as well as the protected areas along a blue-line stream, then located the buildings in a way that protected and interacted with the riparian landscape (View 2).
Completed in August 2009, the design objective was to create an innovative and inviting space that encouraged in the students a desire to use the library for learning and assembling. Historically the library was used only by the grade school children who were mandated to use the facility. Now, as the focal point of the academic hall, the library has evolved into the primary gathering space for all students on campus both academically and communally (View 1).
It has positively transformed the campus’ self image. While having all of the required elements of a modern library including technology and individual/group study rooms, the design features casual seating/meeting areas near a folding glass wall that seamlessly brings the interior and exterior environments together (View 3) when the weather allows. This intimate connection with the natural surroundings is enhanced through the exterior circulation pattern and the library’s ceiling rising up to a clerestory of butt glass to tie the space to the oaks beyond.
Paramount to any development on the site was maintaining the beauty of the 25-acre rugged terrain covered with native landscaping and elevation changes of 45 ft north to south and 80 ft east to west. The novel and modern design for the academic hall steps with the site and visually and physically melds (View 4) within the constraints map and natural grading parameters. It achieved an equivalent to a LEED’s silver rating.