It takes a village.
A village-inspired approach to elementary school design.
Home away from home.
Located in the heart of the Pacific Highlands Ranch region, Solana Ranch Elementary School is an independent elementary school serving approximately 6,000 students. In our partnership with Solana Ranch, HED designed and engineered a vibrant, community-oriented school that is sensitive both to context and to the fundamental design building blocks that foster community-building.
Creative and iterative, the planning process brought together community members, parents, teachers, staff, board members and students to craft a comprehensive, inclusive vision for the new school. An environment that supports collaborative learning. Spaces that inspire revelatory “aha!” moments. A sustainable structure that leverages energy-efficient design strategies—and serves as a teaching tool for a new generation of environmental stewards. During the planning process, Solana Beach School District staff and HED’s design team also participated in the Savings by Design program, which encourages a team approach to the design of energy efficient buildings.
Airy and cheerful, the award-winning design centers on the idea of a village—a series of two-story “houses” that students can navigate as easily and comfortably as their own homes. Extensive passive design strategies including north/south classroom orientation, skylights and clerestory windows, and cross-ventilation keep the interior light and comfortable, and photovoltaic panels offset up to 100% of the building’s energy use.
Situated on a tranquil ten-acre site with ocean views, the completed structure is a focal point for the surrounding area, a community centerpiece that’s bright, inviting and nurturing—one that both establishes a strong sense of place, and teaches its students that they can go anywhere.