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Rising to the challenge of San Francisco school’s sloping site

“The architects of this well considered and thoughtful design have somehow made the school feel like a mini San Francisco - long views, steep slopes and layered spaces - like the city itself,” Chris Boyce, Judge.

Project: The Hamlin School

Award: Education – Nursery, primary and secondary schools

Location: San Francisco, California, USA  

Architect: Mark Cavagnero Associates 

Client: The Hamlin School

The transformative renovation of this all-girls secondary school has unified the campus’s three separate buildings which are set 65 feet down a steep hillside in the Pacific Heights neighbourhood of San Francisco. Constructed over three different eras, each of the buildings felt disconnected from one another and were ill equipped for the 21st century. 
The rejuvenated building has new larger classrooms which are connected by an operable partition and a shared project room, to support different learning modes from individual and small group to whole class and whole year group. 
A new open and accessible lobby halfway between the first floor and the newly excavated lower level welcomes students, parents and visitors and connects to interior lobbies at each level. These lobbies are open and flexible spaces used for class activities, after-school clubs and as pre-function lobbies for the new performance space.

Design highlights

The roof of the extension forms a terrace immediately outside the existing science classrooms and provides phenomenal opportunities for natural science education and experimentation. The design imaginatively adapts to the restrictions of the sloping site by installing a large double-height gymnasium with a three-storey indoor climbing wall, above a multipurpose arts space deep in the centre of the site. This allowed the re-envisioned classrooms to be consolidated on the north side of the building with large windows, soft light and stunning bay views.

  • The Hamlin School
  • The Hamlin School
  • The Hamlin School
  • The Hamlin School
  • The Hamlin School
  • The Hamlin School
  • The Hamlin School
  • The Hamlin School
  • The Hamlin School

Photo credit: Mike Kelley

  • ARCHITECTS: Mark Cavagnero, Felicia Dunham, Christopher Agosta, Tammy LePham, Anna de Anguera 
    CONTRACTOR: Herrero Builders 
    STRUCTURAL ENGINEER: Murphy Burr Curry, Inc. 
    LANDSCAPE: Shades of Green 
    THEATER/PERFORMATING ARTS: Auerbach Pollock Friedlander 
    MECHANICAL & PLUMBING: Costa Engineers, Inc. 
    ELECTRICAL: O'Mahoney & Myer 
    WATERPROOFING: Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. 
  • OWNER'S REPRESENTATIVE / PROJECT MANAGER: Pacific Union Development Company, Inc. 
    ACOUSTICS: Salter 
    COST ESTIMATING: TBD Consultants 
    ELEVATOR: Syska Hennessy Group, Inc. 
    FOOD SERVICE: The Marshall Associates 
    CODE CONSULTING: REAX Engineering 
    SIGNAGE: Clearstory 
    SPECIFICATIONS: Emily Borland Specifications 
    GEOTECHNICAL: Langan; Rollo & Ridley

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