Diamond Ranch High School

by | 19. Feb 2013

Educational | Project

The Diamond Ranch High School is situated on a steeply sloped seventy-two acre site – considered “unbuildable” and donated to Pomona Unified School District. Slopes vary from 1:1 to 5:1 with a total relief across the site of 380 feet. A natural landscape of Riparian Oaks and native grasses surround the site.

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Photo courtesy Morphosis

The total building size is 150,000 s.f., including 50 classrooms, a gymnasium, cafeteria, administration and parking for 770 automobiles.

Fusing landscape and building into a single organic unity, Diamond Ranch High School concerns building as topography, with a majority of the architectural program contained within the reshaped site.

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Photo courtesy Morphosis

The proposal focuses on three major areas; (1) the complex’s conceptual attitude toward the site, (2) social organization, and (3) educational flexibility. The first is the desire to take advantage of the site’s natural beauty by integrating the play fields and buildings into the surrounding hillside. The second goal was to create a dynamic built environment to foster maximum social interaction between students, teachers, administration and the community. Finally, the proposal attempts to facilitate a flexible teaching environment with a solid foundation core curriculum for grades 9 ? 10, and numerous specific program majors for grades 11 – 12 with a capacity for 1200 students.

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Photo courtesy Morphosis

The sloping site provided an opportunity to create a place where architecture and environment continually exchange places. The idea of grading the hillside to accommodate the program gave way rather quickly to a more interesting concept in which the land was shaped in conjunction with the architecture rather than in preparation for it. Minimizing the displacement of earth for budgetary and environmental reasons, the siting of the project took advantage of a natural bowl for the playing field and primary football field, embedding them in the sloped earth at the south of the site to create an economically efficient hillside seating area. The client requested that the 9th and 10th grade classrooms be divided into separate clusters, the educational objective being to divide this portion of the school into six distinct”schools within the school”. Thus the school is organized around separate groups of four classrooms each. This arrangement fosters team teaching and creates a more intimate environment, where students are moving between classes in a smaller cluster. Landscaped outdoor teaching areas at each cluster act as courtyards between buildings.

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Photo courtesy Morphosis

From the parking court at the side of the gymnasium, the landscape/building events of the school weave together with a pedestrian street that unites the entire complex, a physical manifestation of the school’s sense of community by encouraging student / teacher interaction. One of the major focal points of the scheme is a monumental stairway that allows movement from the main school areas to the roof terrace and football field above, while creating a student amphitheater. The focus here was to integrate and take advantage of the site’s topography, creating a dual usage of landscape as structure.

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Drawing courtesy Morphosis Plan Level 0


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Drawing courtesy Morphosis Plan Level 1


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Drawing courtesy Morphosis Plan Level 4

The project was under the State of California Office for Public School Construction Guidelines, requiring a low bid award, which necessitated a diligent analysis of all projected building costs during each stage of development. The project involves a client hired construction manager and the separation of the bid package into 24 separate multiple-prime contractor bids. Construction is facilitated through a ‘team approach’ of client, architect and construction manager, with design team on-site supervision to guarantee quality control. Materials selected, Corrugated metal, Steel, Concrete, are both low maintenance, economic and durable, with a focus on vandal -proof fixtures and surfaces.

The School was completed in January 2000.

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Photo: Kirsten Kiser
The Morphosis office


CITYPomona, California