The Urban School – Academic and Wellness Center

  • area / size 65,600 sqft
  • Completed 2015
  • Perkins and Will designed the innovative Academic and Wellness Center at The Urban School, a high school in San Francisco, California.

    The Urban School of San Francisco, an innovative, independent high school, had maximized their existing campus and desired an expansion; the school’s teaching pedagogy, values, and 60-year commitment to their community and Haight Ashbury neighborhood, informed the design of the new Academic and Wellness Center.

    While their existing campus was adored, after decades of expansions it was a disconnected maze of smaller rooms that did not support the school’s commitment to inclusivity, collaboration and active community involvement.

    Connected by a pedestrian pathway across Page Street, the new center provides a diversity of spaces for interaction—seven flexible classrooms, a kitchen and two-level student commons, a full-size gymnasium event center, as well as casual meeting spaces and areas for reflection. An outdoor turf field and outdoor student commons activate the rooftop.

    The site is bound on three sides by its urban context. To the north, the site fronts the well-traveled Oak Street overlooking the Panhandle, a wooded extension of Golden Gate Park. A glass façade visually connects the school with its surroundings and the balanced natural light and views create calm, reflective spaces to learn.

    The light-filled student commons overlook a full-size gymnasium/event center, creating a social, activity center for the school. Acoustical treatments on walls and doors allow for the openness without sacrificing performance within the adjacent classrooms.

    At the roof level, the turf field and outdoor student commons offer panoramic views of the Panhandle, Sutro Tower and the city beyond, further reflecting the school’s place within the larger community.

    Architect: Perkins and Will
    Contractor: Plant Construction Company
    Photography: David Wakely