Moore Ruble Yudell / HED - Santa Monica Public High School Discovery Building, designed as a "loft" building
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Santa Monica Public High School Discovery Building, designed as a "loft" building

Moore Ruble Yudell / HED

Education  /  Completed
Moore Ruble Yudell / HED

The Discovery Building at Santa Monica High School is a campus integrator for a public school -- and a demonstration of how we can design for value. This project was created with short-term flexibility and long-term adaptability in mind. In this urban neighborhood, this building is a permeable, approachable hub that knits the campus together. In one building, the strands of the campus are drawn together, completing the whole. The project is also a showcase for community connection; with spaces and amenities that are available to the public and to nearby organizations when school is not in session. Santa Monica High School (Samohi)’s pedagogy is in transition from classroom only accommodation and instruction from the front to a diverse spectrum of learning suites and labs complemented by breakout ‘Commons’ areas where learning styles are diverse and multi-directional. Reflecting this dynamic, the Discovery Building -a 260,000 SF addition to the 2,800 student campus – embraces the Open Building approach to both layout and construction, ensuring long term resilience for the community and lasting value for the initial investment. An abiding ethos here is that there is learning everywhere, all the time. In contrast to single and double-loaded corridor layouts common in California, the five-level Discovery Building has deep floor plates that allow the clustering of spaces and activities in a greater variety of sizes and formats, supporting different modes of learning. Large classrooms, up to 1,200 SF, are able to accommodate multiple activities simultaneously. The building wraps around an open entry court with cascading stairs and bleachers for informal gathering. The building is designed as a ‘loft’ building with a flexible, open column grid, raised floor for air supply, power and data and non-load bearing walls which can be reconfigured over time. Like resilience, sustainability is integrated and visible in the project’s living green wall, displacement ventilation, and rooftop photovoltaic and solar thermal arrays. The classrooms are filled with natural light and many have operable glass walls to connect to commons areas. And the building, in particular its rooftop classroom with overhead photovoltaics, weather station and aquaculture displays -is part of the curriculum. To fully understand the progressive program goals of the School and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, the team’s design process was based on a series of workshops with teaching and administrative staff. These meetings reinforced a hybrid approach to the use of open commons versus discrete spaces.


 Santa Monica
 United States
 Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District
 24000 mq
 moore ruble yudell / HED
 moore ruble yudell / HED
 Saiful Bouquet Structural Engineers (Structural), Pamela Burton Company (Landscape)
 Arcadia (Metal Panel, Window Frame), Armstrong (Ceiling), Vitro Architectural Glass (Glass)
 Inessa Binenbaum


Moore Ruble Yudell: Is a design and planning team united by a passion for deep client engagement that informs dynamic placemaking. We respond to the social, ecological, and physical context of each project and embrace research and technology to create joyful places and vibrant communities ready for resilient futures.
HED: We are architects, engineers and planners working across the United States with diverse backgrounds, ideas, experiences, and expertise united by our mission:
Advancing Your World. It is our promise that through the Positive Impact of design, our teams create exceptional, sustainable solutions for our clients, the community, and the world.


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