Bessie Carmichael Middle School, Filipino Education Center

San Francisco Unified School District, San Francisco, California

Awards: Coalition for Adequate School Housing Award of Merit 2009

Photography by JD Peterson

An urban school site for more than a century, this 60 child preschool was converted into a middle school for 230 students in response to community outreach and feedback. The site is located in the emerging residential community of South of Market in San Francisco and now, with the addition of the middle school, the community is provided with comprehensive K-8 facilities.

The school is sited on the north property line to maximize open space on this tight urban lot. To the south, trees provide protection to exposure and the play yard acts as a sound buffer between busy Harrison Street and the new building. The creation of a two story structure creates a small footprint and maximizes open space, which in turn is utilized for play yards and open garden seating.

On the ground level existing and new courtyards, play yards and breezeways are interlaced around a simple rectangular classroom volume, punctuated by large redwood bench loungers and landscaping. Moving up through the building, redwood railed stairs gesture like gangways up to the second floor breezeway; its deep canopy lifts eastward, greeting the cityscape. South-east facing, these deep canopies provide shade and rain protection while creating outdoor learning and cafeteria seating. Benches line the walls inside and out and are scattered throughout the site.

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