San Elijo Elementary School
San Marcos, CA
2007 MCAA International Excellence in Masonry Award Winner
New Dimension Masonry, Inc.
Architect: HMC Architects
The design of San Elijo Elementary School is intended to relate to the smaller scale of K-5 students, drawing upon historical and regional references, and sharing common materials and design inspiration of the adjacent middle school. The district's desire to commission an energy-efficient, sustainable, and durable facility is reflected in the choice of a concrete masonry envelope, and the incorporation of natural daylighting and passive ventilation.
The academic spaces are organized in a linear composition with administrative functions centrally located. The school library is situated prominently on the site capturing adjacent views, projecting an iconic image of the school, and serving as a bookend to the eastern edge of the campus. The classroom buildings have been designed to relate to the elementary school children at a pedestrian oriented scale. Low walls, small courtyards, and trellis elements create additional opportunities for small outdoor teaching areas.
The district's desire to provide a complimentary campus to the adjacent middle school as well as a durable low maintenance facility, made the use of masonry an ideal choice. The use of coursing, block patterns, varying textures and colors are intended to compliment the middle school campus while providing the elementary school with its own unique character. Masonry also has excellent thermal massing qualities that will further enhance the sustainable design of the campus. Long lasting, attractive standing seam metal roofs have been provided at sloped roof areas. Double glazed aluminum windows provide additional solar protection and acoustic control. Galvanized metal trellis elements provide shade and help relate to the pedestrian scale and define campus circulation.
Site analysis on the elementary school site was done to give direction on the placement of the buildings and playfield requirements. The large surrounding slopes, sun angles, vehicular access, noise pollution, surrounding views, and wind patterns were the driving forces behind building placement. The buildings, parking, and drop-off areas stretch along Schoolhouse Way at the southwest edge of the site. The academic spaces rotate throughout the site creating courtyards allowing access to the play fields and alternative outdoor teaching spaces. The classrooms and library maintain excellent views to the surrounding neighborhoods, while the Multi-purpose room and Administration area frame the campus entry at the bus drop-off.
The use of masonry played a significant role to exceed the California Energy Title 24 requirements. The masonry in this project was instrumental in the meeting the criteria for Energy Savings By Design, another state energy program. The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) is a non-profit agency that aims to increase the energy efficiency of schools by providing assistance to architects by helping them design environments that are not only sustainable and energy efficient, but healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. The recycled content of the masonry provided the designer the opportunity to comply with the sustainable qualities of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.