St. Francis High School, Master Plan and Design
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 athletic facility, library, chapel, classrooms, playing fields and administrative facilities, with design that respects the site’s archeological sensitivities and scenic surroundings.
Central to the Salesian concept of education is the idea that there is a transparency between teachers and students. The teachers “go with” the students as opposed to standing apart from them. This concept of transparency was made manifest in the site plan for the school, both in the organization of the informal agora in which all program spaces are apparent, and in the extensive use of literal transparency on the northern edges of all building components. The educational agora is formed by heavy block walls to the south and west sides and almost complete transparency to the north and east sides. This tectonic merges the Salesian concept of transparency with a passive energy strategy appropriate for this site.
The buildings that have been completed to date were designed using Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) guidelines, which informed material selection for optimizing acoustic and air quality. Other concerns that informed the design process included the adjacent residential neighborhood and the input of the active parent community.