St. Francis High School Arts & Sciences Center

Our work with the Diocese of Monterey began in 1999 with a master plan and full architectural services for their new 15-acre high school campus located in Watsonville, California. The site is an agrarian landscape framed by mountains to the north, a lake to the west, and the parish’s Baroque church to the east. The master plan includes an arts and sciences center (featured here), athletic facility, library, chapel, classrooms, playing fields, and administrative facilities, with design that respects the site’s archeological sensitivities and scenic surroundings.

St. Francis Central Coast Catholic High School’s Arts and Sciences Center was the third of a four-phased effort to fulfill the campus master plan. It was designed to express the importance of 21st century education and collaboration, encouraging interaction between the disciplines through adjacency, outdoor shared patios, and displays. Conceived as an indoor-outdoor learning environment, the center was organized around a common courtyard. Views, pathways, and a patio are organized to take advantage of prevailing winds and sunlight, reducing the demand for mechanized heating and cooling while connecting students and faculty to the beautiful lakeside site. All of the learning spaces have access to both natural light and views. 

The Arts Building has a vaulted ceiling and a north-facing glazed wall that opens to an outdoor sculpture garden. The connected kiln room accommodates the art department’s ceramics program. The Science Building integrates state-of-the-art lab furniture and technology to house chemistry and physics labs, a computer lab, and a prep room with a demonstration fume hood. The Center is constructed of concrete masonry cells, architecturally enhanced with Alaskan yellow cedar.

The buildings were designed using LEED and Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) to guide and inform the material and system selections. 

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