A District-led team of professionals, students, educators, and community members determined the design and educational specifications for Murrieta Mesa High School. Several focus group meetings were held to refine the functional needs and aspirations for districts third comprehensive high school. It was decided that the elements of flexibility, campus identity, connectivity, learning, and teacher planning would play out as the main focal points in the final design concept. In support of these design elements, the design incorporated departmental classrooms, a single common gathering space on the campus, opportunities for connection with the community, learning/career centers, and instructional spaces within student areas.
The architecture of Murrieta Mesa High School displays an understanding of how theater, administration and gymnasium spaces, as public/civic elements of the campus, support the more private spaces of the classrooms. The public/civic elements are arranged to front the public street, and the classrooms are arranged around a student commons and amphitheater as the private heart of the campus. Access into the heart of the campus and connections to the larger community are found through expansive courtyards and view corridors. Also shaping the future school’s design were City of Murrieta plans to run a new main roadway through the center of the project site. After re-positioning the road and working closely and collaboratively with city staff, the road now only separates a small parcel from the main campus, maintaining a cohesive campus appearance and avoiding potential safety and site security issues. This small lot serves as the varsity softball field and parking.
The classroom spaces are organized departmentally to facilitate sharing among teachers within disciplines. Learning director and coordinator teams are grouped in learning centers open to the student commons to foster direct involvement and help students identify with their grade-level house, giving them a secure sense of place in the larger community.