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Sonoma Academy in Santa Rosa, California by WRNS Studio
October 4th, 2016 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: WRNS Studio
Last month, Sonoma Academy, an independent college prep high school located in Sonoma County, broke ground on a 22,000-square-foot expansion project, designed by San Francisco-based architecture and planning firm WRNS Studio. Situated on a 34-acre campus nestled at the base of Taylor Mountain, this marks the first phase of a two-phase campus-wide transformation. Known as the Grange & Studios, the two-level educational facility will add key academic, social and cultural spaces that will support the overall mission of the school. In less than 14 months, the project went from design phase to beginning construction.
“Sonoma Academy is a fundamentally innovative and collaborative institution whose curriculum and sustainable vision inspired a timely design solution,” said WRNS Studio Partner, Director of Sustainability and Project Manager Pauline Souza. “From the onset, we understood that the school’s core values of engagement needed to be integrated into the design and part of the students’ everyday experience”.
Sonoma Academy envisioned a campus that would teach students about social, environmental, and food justice while nurturing its solutions-driven, hands-on teaching philosophy. In 2015, they tapped WRNS Studio to re-envision their Master Plan and campus development initiative. The result is a two-level design with vegetation-covered rooftop. On the top level is The Grange, a teaching and commercial kitchen with dining hall and outdoor learning spaces complete with flower, herb and fruit tree gardens. On the lower level, The Studios, an area comprised of traditional and STEM-inspired shops, art classrooms, technology rooms, media production studios, offices, and meeting spaces. Also included in the project is a separate building for maintenance facilities.
“WRNS took time to understand our objectives and embraced our design concepts,” said Head of School Janet Durgin. “They worked in tandem with our faculty and educational leaders and were able to translate our ideas into a design that not only represents our mission, but is also actively in dialogue with the school’s surroundings.”
The anticipated completion date is July 2017. When completed, the buildings will be LEED Platinum, an Education Pilot for Well Building, and a Living Building Challenge candidate. The project has a green roof and cascading planters that filters stormwater and rainwater, a geo-exchange system, watershed block made with local soil, and photovoltaic panels that will ensure the project produces more than enough energy to offset the demand by over 15%. The productive garden will provide herbs, vegetables and fruits for the school food program, and also be a community place to relax and display student art made in the maker classrooms a few feet away.
Funding for the project has been provided entirely through private donations. Phase II of the campus expansion will be a new 450-seat performing arts theater and conservatory.
About WRNS Studio
WRNS Studio is an architecture and planning firm that provides high quality sustainable design for education, healthcare, transportation, civic and urban mixed-use.
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