The Classical Academy Counseling Center Escondido, CA

The Classical Academy Online Counseling Center is housed in a 12,000 square foot, 1950’s former Bank of America building in Escondido’s downtown core.  The building serves as Classical Academy’s “Cyber Café” where online and independent study 9th through 12th grade students can receive one-one-tutoring and meet for collaborative activities.  The school leadership desired a space for their high schoolers that felt less like a school and more like a corner coffee shop or the offices of a Silicon Valley start-up.  In this high tech learning environment, students and staff move around the building and plug-in with their laptops in spaces that include small study carrels for one to four people, group counseling rooms for 10 to 20 people, casual seating within the large, light-filled counseling lounge and private and open staff offices.

Once the decades-deep layers of drywall, partitions, ceilings, finishes and equipment were removed, the building began to reveal a rich, existing materials palette: red steel columns, beams and trusses, multi-colored terrazzo flooring, wood beams and joists, old wood and steel windows and cast-in-place concrete walls – some as thick as 16” for the original vaults that served the bank.  We let these materials set the tone for the renovation: we placed structural, frameless glass at openings in the concrete walls to reveal rough edges and aggregate; used simple, bright colors to highlight circulation and student-specific spaces; and chose exposed electrical conduit and simple, modern lighting to contrast with the richly textured, exposed wood ceilings.

Our roll on this adaptive re-use project included several expanded services.  In addition to architecture, interior design, code analysis, technical drawings, consultant coordination, permit processing and construction administration, we completed feasibility studies, BOMA calculations and graphic and written lease exhibits and supported the lease negotiation process. -- Photos by studio MAHA --

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