Los Alamos High School

Los Alamos, NM

This new three-story modern facility at Los Alamos High School replaces older administration and classroom wings with new teaching spaces, a positive new image and a welcoming front door for this high performance school.

Recognized as being one of the most challenging high schools in America and located within a city boasting the highest number of PhDs per capita in the nation, the project’s sleek, contemporary design needed to reflect the reputation and values of the school and its community.

This new facility provides a state-of-the-art learning environment for Los Alamos High School students and establishes a memorable and dramatic visual identity. A central two-story student commons offers active social gathering space along with direct connection to the outdoors. A large south-facing courtyard integrates landscaping with concrete walkways, patios and terraced seating for outdoor student interaction. All of the vehicular functions are limited to the perimeter of the campus thus creating a safe and pedestrian friendly student zone within the campus.

The building massing steps to follow the natural slope of the site. Building orientation provides optimum exposure for integrating north and south day-lighting into all areas. Natural light is incorporated in all learning spaces and high volume public areas through use of glazed curtain walls plus clerestory features, both protected with passive solar control in the form of shade devices.

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The Vision

The location of the building was crucial to creating a central heart and visible entry for the campus. Responding directly to the sloping site and solar orientation, the project’s form evolved to maximize daylighting, views and solar control. Courtyards and terraced seating integrated into the landscaping provide gathering spaces for students and resolve pedestrian accessibility issues on the existing campus. A Black box theater for dance, drama, assemblies and meetings anchors the lower level. The two-story Student Commons serves as a gathering spot for students and provides a direct connection to the rest of the campus.