Santa Maria High School was established in 1892 and was a landmark for the farming and ranching community of California’s central coast. Made up of Spanish Colonial architectural motifs, including deep set archways, barrel tile roofs and heavy cement plaster forms, the vocabulary was both clearly Californian, permanent and institutional in its design. Today, little that remains of the original high school is embodied in the Ethel Pope Auditorium and clues to the high school’s past can be found in the campus commons.
BCA Architects participated in a design competition/proposal process for the campus’ reconstruction. Our design concept looks to honor the school’s original architecture and planning by bringing back a modern interpretation of the Spanish Colonial vocabulary and a master plan that seeks to create new landmark elements for the school and community alike.
The new site plan is based upon a large quad, big enough to support the entire student body and serve as the central gathering place for activity on campus. The new classroom, administration and student union facility is pushed to edge of the site. The building’s placement serves to maximize the protected courtyard space, creates a strong presence in the streetscape and provides a new “front door” to the modernized campus.
The new building, a two-story, double loaded classroom wing with administration and a student union space, is arranged such that access and natural daylight serve all areas equally. The administration is positioned immediate to the primary entry for safety and security, and support space and vertical circulation is divided evenly across all floors. At the heart of the building is a grand “student union” space that serves as the primary student entry for circulation and socialization. The building also steps down at the ends to transition it to a pedestrian scale and honors the historical Ethel Pope Auditorium at the corner.
The design of the new building and campus modernization components are intended to breathe new life into Santa Maria High School, improve its organization and bring back its landmark vocabulary and identity.