April 15th, 2013
According to Building Design+Construction’s April cover story on charter schools, “charter schools have come a long way in just over two decades. Forty-one states and the District of Columbia have laws recognizing charters, and resistance to charters by public school administrators and teachers’ unions has diminished over the years … Despite this progress, getting schools built remains a daunting task for charter operators … Most charters can only afford to allocate about 14-15% of their budgets to facilities, compared to 22% or more for public schools. Typically, charters will start with one or two kindergartens in leased space and move up a few years later to a K-3 in a renovated space. The real test comes when the charter becomes successful enough to consider building its own facility.”
In the article “23 Things You Need to Know About Charter Schools,” editor Robert Cassidy interviewed HMC Architects’ Phil Nemeth and Steve Prince, along with several other architects, to provide insight into executing successful charter school projects and to provide guidance to charter schools that are looking to build new or expand their facilities.
March 4th, 2013
HMC Architects/School Advisors received three design awards at the C.A.S.H./AIACC Leroy F. Greene Design and Planning Awards Ceremony on February 26. The firm was honored with an Award of Honor for the Orchard School Library, an Award of Honor for LAUSD’s Middle College High School, and an Award of Merit for LAUSD’s Elementary School #9.
Orchard School Library, Orchard School District
The Orchard School Library unites the School’s campus and inspires academic success. The District commissioned HMC to design a sustainable facility to improve its outdated and overcrowded campus library, with the goals of housing their growing book collection, improving student access to technology, and educating students on green buildings and a sustainable future. With the existing library centrally located in the campus core, the design team distinguished the building from its surroundings through a striking aesthetic that is reflective of its position in the heart of Silicon Valley. Inside, full-height glass brings natural light deep into the expanded space, which is a drastic departure from the obstructed views of its predecessor. The project is the first LEED Gold certified K-12 public school building in the City of San Jose and is the third LEED Gold certified K-12 public school facility in the State of California.
Jurors said, “the quality of this interior space is timeless and what you would want in a library. The stark before and after images reflect the execution of a very successful design scheme. We like how this volume serves as an end cap to the Administration Building. It’s a good backdrop to the public space in between and the multi-purpose building. The daylighting is very nice and the interiors are gorgeous. This is a beautiful library and will serve as a source of pride and anchor for the school.”
Middle College High School, Los Angeles Unified School District
Middle College High School (MCHS) at Los Angeles Southwest College is a result of the unique collaboration between the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Community College District, and Southwest College—all of whom shared the goals of expanding educational opportunities for the local community and providing a direct link to higher education for MCHS students. MCHS serves as a Small Learning Community for LAUSD, while its presence on Southwest College’s campus fosters interaction between the schools from both a facilities and curricular perspective. The high school reinforces a collegial environment by providing an open facility, accessible from several directions on campus. Middle College High School targets LEED Platinum certification and realized energy performance that exceeds Title 24 by 41.2% through the use of on-site renewable energies, storm water treatment, and natural daylight harvesting.
Jurors said, “this is a very successful, unique collaboration between a college and a high school district. Collaboration between multiple users and facilities is difficult, but the design team met the challenge of integrating the building into a difficult existing site and executed a quality project while serving the interests of two different clients. This design makes it look easy and natural by blending all of the required elements so successfully. Spaces, building massing and interiors all reflect the successful integration of Savings by Design, LEED and CHPS criteria, and the project exceeds Title 24 by an astounding 41.2%! This is a high level of sophisticated design intelligence and it results in a very successful project.”
Elementary School #9, Los Angeles Unified School District
Set in an urban neighborhood, design goals were merged with community needs, which resulted in LAUSD’s Elementary School #9 addressing neighborhood initiatives such as open space, student safety, and sustainability. The buildings are efficiently planned to gain desired playground areas and reduce underutilized space. The campus includes 26 classrooms in a new, three-story building, along with a library and administration offices. To promote 21st century teaching and learning, classrooms are designed to promote student collaboration and flexible instruction. Adjacent to the classroom building is the multi-purpose building that includes a multi-purpose space, kitchen, and covered outdoor lunch area. The circular elements, repeated throughout the classroom building’s exterior façade, introduce a playful element to this elementary school that also do double duty by providing opportunities for visual supervision.
Jurors said, “this is a tough site in a tough neighborhood. The building responds to external site traffic congestion, traffic safety, and traffic volumes yet is still able to maximize open space uses on the site. Grade level separation by floors and separation of community and school uses are expressed by the building’s playful exterior. The site plan, although simple at first glance, has been well thought out. The bridge and stairwell provides a much needed positive icon for this underserved community. Circular shapes accented throughout the school elicit a youthful, inviting and engaging environment.”
February 26th, 2013
HMC/School Advisors’ School News is out! Read about the latest trends in K–12 education.
Don’t Stop Planning: Position Your District for the Future
Options for Learning: Innovation in Education
10 Low-Cost Design Tips for Public Schools
Local GO Bond Campaigns Make the Difference
Public Consensus –> Winning Propositions
November 26th, 2012
Earlier this month, HMC’s Alex Parslow and Dr. Michael Hendricks, superintendent of Charter Oak USD, were presented with two awards at the California School Public Relations Association (CalSPRA) awards ceremony. CalSPRA is an organization of education public relations professionals, administrators, and school personnel who are responsible for communications. CalSPRA’s Excellence in Communication Awards Program recognizes superior achievement in meeting strategic goals through high-quality communications and public relations programs.
HMC and Charter Oak received an Award of Excellence in the Writing category for the District’s HMC Designing Futures Foundation Grant Proposal. Once the grant opportunity was identified for the District to pursue, the Charter Oak USD Governing Board and Superintendent discussed the need to renovate the Charter Oak High School Business Academy (The Academy) computer lab. They drafted the grant proposal with a message that addressed how the funding would enable The Academy to make vital updates to the hardware and software in its two computer labs, which are an essential and integral part of the Information Technology Pathway at the school. The grant writing was effective and successful, Charter Oak USD was able to secure a $10,000 grant from the DFF, which is the largest amount the foundation distributes.
HMC and Charter Oak also received an Award of Merit in the California Gold category, the top statewide recognition honoring superior educational public relations programs. The Charter Oak Partners in Education (COPE), which HMC’s Alex Parslow serves as CEO of, is a charitable nonprofit foundation dedicated to supporting and enhancing quality educational programs for Charter Oak Unified School District. COPE raises funds on behalf of the District and works with the Board of Education to direct these resources toward projects that benefit students and the community alike. One major special event that COPE has established to achieve its mission is its annual Hall of Fame Dinner. The communications program developed in support of the Hall of Fame dinner was highly successful and recognized as a top in the State.
November 15th, 2012
By: Pam Maynard, CID Director of Interior Architecture and James Woolum, AIA, IIDA Design Principal
Notorious for their shoestring budgets, public schools have learned how to make every element of their space function in more ways than one. HMC’s interiors duo, Pam Maynard and James Woolum, published “10 Low-Cost Design Tips for Public School” in the October issue of School Planning & Management. The article provides tips for making your design budget stretch twice as far.
For example, take the edge off by adding COLOR. Research shows that color on the walls has a range of positive effects from reducing heart rates to modifying behavior so students stay more focused and teachers stay calm. Colored paint costs the same as white paint so why not liven things up?
November 1st, 2012
On October 23, the Gompers / LPS-Richmond project celebrated its groundbreaking. Since 2003, LPS-Richmond (Leadership Public Schools), a charter high school, has occupied space on West Contra Costa USD’s Gompers Continuation High School campus. When the state deemed the site a Tier 1 priority for seismic rehabilitation, the two schools combined resources to develop a joint project for a shared campus on the existing site. The campus is planned to include classroom buildings and outdoor space for each school, along with a shared gymnasium and health clinic.
The school’s location in the Iron Triangle–an area of Richmond that ranks among the most violent in the state–made creating safe and supportive environment for students and faculty a key factor. To create an effective response to the neighborhood challenges, the design for the buildings and campus followed three guiding principles: urbanity, civility, and sustainability. The design team merged these principles with the concept of a “geode,” an object that appears hard on the outside, but that opens up to light and space on the inside. Exterior materials and imagery communicate permanence, quality, and respect for the city. The interiors are attractive, sturdy, and inviting.
The 26,400-SF project sits on a 3.1-acre site. When complete, it will accommodate 300 Gompers students and 585 LPS-Richmond students. Construction is expected to be complete in December 2014.
November 1st, 2012
By Rita Saikali Carter, Design Leader
Follow my Instagram for a recap of HMC’s team participating in the 22nd annual Make a Difference Day, the nation’s largest day of service, with an estimated three-million volunteers working on projects across the country. “Make a Difference Day is about giving back to your community and serving others,” said seven-time Grammy winner Usher, who promotes services through his New Look Foundation. “One voice joined by another is the start of a movement.” Make a Difference Day was created by USA Weekend Magazine and is held in partnership with the Points of Light and Hands On Network. The Inland Empire United Way organized an extreme makeover of Garey High School and recruited teams of volunteers from companies such as Target, ADP, JC Penny, and Nestle. There were also many Garey HS students on hand and a large group of students from Cal Poly Pomona. It was amazing to see the school completely transformed in 8 hours from a dreary, blank campus into a vibrant learning environment with colorful murals, new gardens, fresh paint, and a host of other campus improvements. My favorite mural made up of huge stylized letters read, “Don’t leave a legacy, live one!”
The wall before the HMC team started painting the mural.
HMC Architects’ volunteers put their artistic skills to great use at Garey High School Make a Difference Day. (Left: Armando Gonzalez. Right: Beryl Lopez)
October 31st, 2012
HMC received two honors at AIA Santa Clara Valley’s bi-annual design awards. The Orchard School Library received an Honor Award, one of only two given that night, and McAfee’s Executive Briefing Center received a Citation Award. The awards program recognizes design excellence and this year’s theme focused on Sustaining Innovation. According to the chapter, “the legacy of Architecture in Santa Clara Valley has been its support of innovative companies, organizations, and individuals. Looking ahead, Sustaining Innovation may be a key to addressing regional and global challenges. This award program acknowledges design excellence and creativity in projects which sustain innovation, make positive impacts, and serve communities, companies and individuals.”
October 12th, 2012
On October 4, HMC was presented with an Award of Excellence from the AIA Inland California (AIAIC) chapter for the design of Elementary School (ES) #9 for Los Angeles Unified School District. The AIAIC awards program recognizes achievements for architectural works that elevate the quality of the architectural practice and design, and inform the public of the breath and value of the architectural practice.
Designed to serve a growing community, ES #9 began with a simple goal: create an open, welcoming campus for students while maximizing convenience to parents and administration. The campus includes 26 classrooms in a new, three-story building, along with a library and administration offices. To promote 21st century teaching and learning, classrooms are designed to capitalize on student collaboration and flexible instruction. The classroom building features ample secondary spaces on the upper floors that include teacher workrooms, speech therapy rooms, and resource specialist classrooms. West of the classroom building is the multi-purpose building that includes an 8,500-SF multi-purpose space, kitchen, staff lunchroom, and a covered outdoor lunch area.
Design goals were merged with the community aesthetic from the surrounding region which results in a school that responds to neighborhood initiatives, such as open space, student safety, and sustainability, while complementing a comprehensive district program. Building footprints were designed to be as efficient as possible in order to gain desired playground areas and minimize underutilized space, and the intersecting space between the buildings serves as the main entry to the campus. This single point of access to the school helps provide increased security and a streamlined pick-up/drop-off zone.
October 2nd, 2012
ENR California has awarded the Orchard School Library an “Award of Merit” in its Best Projects competition, which recognizes the region’s best achievements in construction and design. This project is a success because of the rigorous planning and collaboration from key members of the school community with oversight from the strong design and construction team of HMC Architects and Blach Construction. The district challenged the project team to create a facility that embodies academic excellence, promotes technology literacy, and builds community and to do so with environmental sensitivity.
“We had a clear vision of building a library that was communal, modern, and inspiring for 21st century learning, while ensuring it operated efficiently and affordably,” said Jackie Felbinger, former Director of Educational Services for the Orchard School District who oversaw the design and construction of the new library. “We are pleased to offer students a facility with environmentally friendly design elements that support the healthy learning environment our students deserve.”