Designed to accommodate a full enrollment for a multi-trackyear round schedule,  this new elementary school addresses the limitations of its site by incorporating terraced levels that assist with zoning, supervisory, and orientation functions.

Addressing the “first time” educational experience for its students, the project responds to architectural notions of form, scale, and context as a suburban place

A passive upper level terrace is designed to accommodate academic learning areas including outdoor learning spaces such as the “fragrance Garden”. The more active mid and lower terraces are reserved for Play Grounds, Physical Education, amphitheater, and the Lunch Court.  Walkways throughout the site are gently sloped to accommodate maximum accessibility and eliminate the need for ramps and handrails.  This treatment of the topography eases supervision demands for the staff while visually extending the small site for maximum use.

Immediately adjacent to the administration and multi-purpose complex is the Entry Plaza serving as the primary gateway for the campus.  Providing community identity and a focal point for the site, the entry court welcomes visitors and students, serves as event overflow space for the multi-purpose building, and facilitates control and orientation for all campus activities.

Academic classrooms are arranged along the upper terrace as learning villages for each grade level.  Entry points to these “villages” are positioned along a covered path that is open to the fields and view corridors to the north – thus providing students with a visual connection between their school and neighborhood.  In order to maximize opportunities for natural light, these villages are organized around outdoor learning spaces that accommodate a variety of specialty garden programs as well as secluded patio and lawn areas for nature and science activities.

To emphasize its importance, the multimedia center is positioned at the west end of the primary circulation element.  Housing the main technology distribution center for the campus, the building serves to anchor the project on two levels; first as a figurative architectural notion; second as a symbolic gesture to the Information Age.


Location: San Marcos, California

District: San Marcos Unified School District

Size: 45,000 SF, 8.7 Acre Site

Cost: $7.5 M

Completion: 1997

Awards: Honor Award, Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH Award of Honor 1999)


  • Multiple Scales of Instruction
  • Connectivity Between Spaces
  • Learning Occurs In Every Space
Parent Drop Off