Mike Hauser Algebra Academy: Mentoring Students in Math and Technology

mike Hauser algebra academy, Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, TLCD Architecture, Student thank you

For the past 3 mornings, TLCD Architecture has hosted 30 freshman high school students attending the Mike Hauser Algebra Academy, now entering it’s 7th year. This is a tutoring program organized by the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce to assist students in becoming proficient in algebra to meet graduation requirements. TLCD joined other local businesses – Agilent Technologies, Medtronic Cardiovascular, JDSU, PG&E and the City of Santa Rosa Utilities Department in providing classroom space within their companies. One of the primary goals of the MHAA program is to show the students the connection between math and technology and how it’s used in the real world work place.

Mike Hauser Algebra Academy, City of Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, TLCD Architecture demonstrationMike Hauser Algebra Academy, City of Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, TLCD Architecture models

Between instructional sessions, TLCD staff offered insights into the architectural profession with presentations on recent local projects, architectural rendering techniques, and 3D design and drafting with a laser cutter demonstration that created a personalized name plaque for each student. A previous MHAA session was held at the City of Santa Rosa’s Utilities Field Office, designed by TLCD and it provided an opportunity for staff to present the design and drafting efforts required to construct a physical space recently used by the students.

The MHAA instructor, Math and Science teacher Aaron Prysock called TLCD’s presentation “spot on” and hopes he can return with next year’s academy classes.

"If You Build It Movie" Inspires

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IF YOU BUILD IT is a captivating movie that follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural North Carolina where they work with local high school students to transform their community and lives. Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long design and build project that does more than teach just basic construction skills – it shows them the power of design-thinking to reinvent their town and what is possible.

The movie will be released on February 28th at the Landmark Cinema in San Francisco and the Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. It opens March 1st at the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael. Watch the trailer and be inspired!

Thanks to my SMPS group for sharing this great link!

Ribbon Cutting Ceremony at Wright Elementary School District

Wright Montage for Blog
The Wright Elementary School DistrictTLCD Architecture and Wright Contracting attended a ribbon cutting ceremony to formally celebrate the completion of the Wright Charter School Modernization project. While the classrooms received new energy efficient lighting and HVAC systems and the administration was totally remodeled, the most visible impact of the project is the transformation school’s frontage. Improvements include a new drop off loop, entry plaza with landscaping and an expanded kindergarten play area enclosed by ornamental fencing. The exterior improvements extend to the areas between the buildings where outdoor learning environments were created to support the school’s emphasis on eco-literacy.

St. Helena Montessori School Celebrates Opening of New Campus

St. Helena Montessori School welcomed the community to an open house for the new TLCD Architecture designed campus on September 6th. As many as 200 attendees saw firsthand that this is no ordinary school, nor is it an ordinary Montessori School.

This 20-acre campus accommodates a much wider range of ages than most other Montessori Schools, from age 2½ to ninth grade, with an Adolescent / Farm School. The school follows Dr. Maria Montessori’s philosophy of education as an “aid to life” – viewing the child as a being whose physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual parts are interrelated, and whose educational environment must respect that unity.

Classrooms are large, with wood floors and open ceilings. Windows at each classroom building are scaled to the age of the students, and are placed at different heights above the floor accordingly. A State of California licensing inspector proclaimed them the most beautiful classroom interiors she had ever seen.

The school was constructed by Eames Construction of Petaluma, and construction management services were provided by Pound Management of Oakland. When complete the campus will feature boarding facilities, a working farm, and the new home for the Nimbus Arts Center.

TLCD Architecture Partners with Chico High School Students


For the past two school years TLCD Architecture has partnered with the ROP program at Chico High School in an evolving collaboration between students and design professionals. The “iTech” program teaches students about design and construction, and in particular how to use Revit, a Building Information Modeling (BIM) program that TLCD helped pioneer beginning in 2000.

When TLCD was selected to design the new 10-acre Butte Regional Transit Operations Center in Chico, we were given this unique opportunity to involve iTech students in the project in a meaningful way. Since that time the students have been actively involved in the project including participation in design workshops, developing solar shading studies, producing models with their 3-D printers, creating a Revit model, and video “fly throughs” of the project.

The link below takes you to one of these fly throughs, as well as the students’ final 3D model. TLCD Architecture used the iTech model when it presented the project to the Chico Architectural Review Board last week. Way to go students!

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Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Celebrates Opening of Yulupa Elementary Multi-Use Building

On March 7th, the Bennett Valley Union School District held a public ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the new Multi-Use Building at Yulupa Elementary School. The project, designed by TLCD Architecture, signifies the end of over 2 years of construction projects that have transformed this primary school campus in Southeast Santa Rosa.

City officials, District staff, and the design and construction team were all present to welcome students and their families to this new facility.

Along with the new Multi-Use Building, the local bond passed in November 2010, funded 12 new custom designed modular classrooms, an expanded library and a new soccer field with a perimeter running track.

Sustainable features include a rooftop solar installation which offsets the majority of the school’s electrical usage and the reuse of old modular classrooms into a new District Office.

Connecting with Today’s Digital Students

We are witnessing a major shift in the educational environment of the 21st century. Today’s students are plugged into a digital, global learning network. More than ever before, the way they learn is evolving and our education system must adapt to support this dynamic new future in our educational environments.

The young people of today are digital natives. They have grown up with constant access and interconnectivity to digital information resources. In contrast, most educators are digital immigrants, who are learning to adjust/adapt/modify their way of teaching to better reflect the realities of how students absorb information, communicate, and critically think about the subjects they are learning. The incorporation of online learning into this teaching methodology is vital.

Good school design not only supports the current learning needs, but also prepares for change and innovation in the future. It is anticipated that by 2019, 50% of all high school courses may be available online (1). Teachers already use sites such as YouTube to share lecture lessons with students outside of class. Students can learn where they are most comfortable and at their own pace, and have the opportunity to replay a lesson as often as needed to understand the content. This, in turn, opens up class time for interactive discussions and hands on practice of concepts covered in the online lectures. As a result, students and teachers gain more time for individualized tutoring and small collaborative learning groups.

This vision for a new learning methodology is resulting in an entirely different way of looking at classroom design. The rows of organized desks  facing a singular direction are no longer applicable. Having a dynamic classroom with space that can quickly transform from individual learning space to break out groups with easy access to technology is a must. Flexibility to accommodate for varying class sizes, access to fresh air and natural ventilation, and the use of the latest in acoustical and audio visual technology are critical to the design of a successful educational environment.

For nearly three decades personal computers have been used in classrooms, yet many of those classrooms look largely the same as they did 30 years ago. The future of educational environments incorporates computers, document cameras, smart boards, etc. in the core framework of the building design to create a holistic and fully interactive atmosphere for learning.

The learning activities observed in today’s classrooms significantly impact the way we design educational spaces. Administrators, faculty, and teachers are all vital contributors towards each successful project and we build lasting relationships that will provide the tools and resources needed to support a school’s educational program and prepare its students throughout their educational journey. As a design firm, we create inspirational learning environments, where teachers have the flexibility to transform a classroom in response to subject matter, class size, student needs, and teaching styles. Our projects support a school’s educational program while responding to the needs of the students.

(1) Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, Clayton Christensen, Copyright 2008

John Dybczak AIA
K-12 Practice Leader

Roseland Creek Elementary in the Home Stretch


As their summer vacation begins to wind down, the excitement and anticipation of the students in the Roseland School District is beginning to build. The completion of their new school is only a few weeks away! This new school, located in the Roseland area of Santa Rosa, will be home to approximately 740 of the District’s students when school resumes on August 20.

The project consists of three main buildings; two classroom buildings and a multi-use building. The two classroom buildings will house the classrooms, kindergartens, library, computer lab, and administrative offices. In addition, the project includes play fields, play structures, site landscaping, parking, a bus drop-off , and street improvements.

The project team – Lathrop Construction Associates, Inc (General Contractor), Counterpoint Construction Services, Inc. (Construction Manager), the Roseland School District, and TLCD Architecture have been working diligently to put the finishing touches on this construction project that began in May 2011. The dedication and commitment to work together as a team has really been demonstrated during the course of construction and we’re all looking forward to the completion of this successful project.

Bellevue District Office Dedication – Taylor Mountain School is Completed!


The Bellevue Union School District held a dedication ceremony to formally open their new district office and dedicate the boardroom to long time Board member Yvonne Kennedy. The district office is located at Taylor Mountain Elementary School and its completion ends 5 years of phased construction projects designed by TLCD Architecture at this new $19 million campus located in southeast Santa Rosa.

The design of Taylor Mountain Elementary includes a central courtyard with focused views to its’ namesake mountain to the east. Classroom pods ring the courtyard and lead to the library/media center. TLCD worked with the teaching staff to refine the pod design in support of the District’s teaching philosophy.

In response to wetlands and a tiger salamander habitat, the site design includes enhanced wetland study areas, bioswales, and stormwater detension basins. The interiors include many energy efficient lighting and mechanical systems, and extensive use of sustainable materials.

TLCD also played a key role in assisting Chevron Energy Solutions with the design and installation of a 176Kv photovoltaic power generating system that will generate a majority of the campus’ electrical power needs.

The later phases of construction used the Lease-Leaseback project delivery method. This provided an opportunity for the General Contractor and major subcontractors to provide valuable input during the design process and a guaranteed maximum construction cost to the District.

Taylor Mountain Elementary School is TLCD Architecture’s second new school completed with Bellevue Unified School District. Our collaborative effort and commitment to providing inspirational learning environments for the students resulted in a project that will serve this growing community for many years.

Education Exchange

The 21st Century Classroom, one that focuses on the Four C’s; Communication, Creativity, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking was the main topic of discussion at the inaugural Napa Valley Education Exchange, a three day conference that I was able to attend last week in Napa.  The conference attendees included school district superintendents and educators from all over the State of California.

We were treated to very informative and inspirational presentations from education futurists Dr. Yong Zhao, Ken Kay, and Dr. Pat Wolfe.  The presentations were focused on the current state of our education system and how it needs to be changed in order to support the learning needs of our current and future students.

This conference was especially interesting as I was able to learn about many of the challenges being faced by school districts.  As architects, we play an important role in developing educational environments that are inspirational to those who use them.  Flexible classroom spaces that incorporate advanced technology, flexible furniture, natural daylighting, fresh air, and good acoustics are critical elements of today’s classroom.

John Dybczak AIA

Project Update for Roseland Creek Elementary School

Welcome to the Roseland Creek Elementary School.  Hard hats are required.  This new kindergarten through sixth grade school is being built for the Roseland School District and is located in the Roseland neighborhood of Santa Rosa.  With over 52,000 square feet of instructional and administrative space and a 10,000 square foot Multi-Purpose Building, this project is scheduled to be complete at the end of June.


The project’s two classroom buildings, comprised of five kindergarten classrooms, 24 primary classrooms, a library, a computer lab, and administrative offices are connected by a two story bridge of steel and glass.  Along with the new Classroom Buildings and the Multi-Purpose Building there will be new play fields, play structures, site landscaping, parking, a bus drop off and street improvements.  Upon completion, this school will serve approximately 740 students.

Classes are slated to begin on August 20th.  With a project completion date of June 30th, we are all pushing hard to get this project completed on time.  There will be much to accomplish between the construction completion date and the start of school.  The contractor will need to finish their punch list, the classrooms and offices have to be outfitted with furniture and the teachers and administrators have to move in and organize their classrooms in preparation for school to begin.  The project team – Lathrop Construction Associates, Inc. (General Contractor), Counterpoint Construction Services, Inc. (Construction Manager), the District and TLCD, have worked together to meet this goal.  The team is pushing forward to make timely decisions and give timely responses to questions, maintain a high quality of work and remain sensitive to the project’s design and the Districts needs.  Many difficult decisions have been made to pull this project together.  But hey, this is construction!

Yulupa Modular Classroom Installation

During the spring of 2011 TLCD Architecture designed a dozen classrooms for the Bennett Valley Union School District to be constructed as modular buildings. Last week we had the pleasure of watching the last few classroom modules being set at the Yulupa Elementary School campus in Santa Rosa, California. Each classroom is comprised of three ten-foot slices which are pre-manufactured in the central valley by Meehleis Modular Buildings, Inc. The modules are constructed with much of the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems in place, as well as windows, insulation and interior gypsum board. These modules are then trucked to the site, craned into place, and attached to the concrete slab. The installation goes very quickly; the second module is ready to be craned as soon as the first is set down. Once the modules are in place Meehleis’ subcontractors install doors, fixtures and finishes, and turn the completed buildings over to the general contractor. The final product is a classroom that is every bit as robust and permanent as a traditional “stick-built” building at significant cost savings to the District.

TLCD Architecture commences the Construction on St. Helena Montessori School

Exciting developments are happening at the St Helena Montessori School!  While classes resume in temporary facilities at the site, construction has begun on the first four of six buildings designed by TLCD Architecture.  These buildings also referred to as “the Quad” include the Administration Building, the Toddler Building, Preschool, and Elementary School.  The central focus of the Quad will be the courtyard formed by each of the buildings.  Because outdoor education is an integral part of the curriculum, each classroom building will have adjacent outdoor classroom spaces for structured play, agriculture, and animal care. Students will be engaged in regular observation of the construction activities and will even help design and build some of the landscape features. The General Contractor is Eames Construction from Petaluma.  The buildings are scheduled to be completed for occupancy in fall of 2012.

Innovative Multi-Purpose Room Unveiled

Last evening our design for a new multi-purpose building at Yulupa School in Santa Rosa was presented to the Bennett Valley Union School District board. This building represents a unique approach to the design of multi-purpose buildings, and is part of a larger project that will reconfigure and transform the campus. Other key project features include 12 new classrooms, conversion of the former multi-purpose room into a library, and rooftop solar panels that will provide almost all of the school’s electricity.

The building is configured with a large sloped roof to accommodate as many solar panels as possible. The orientation of the building allows a large expanse of glass on the back, north-facing wall of the main room, as well as the stage. The stage is only 18 inches in height, scaled to the primary aged students at this grade K-3 school.

Unlike most stages, the curtains will customarily be open so that the stage’s north-facing windows are open to the main room. This unique and informal relationship between the main room and the stage is emphasized by stage curtains that when drawn, are visible through a metal mesh from the main room.

The building orientation and roof slope facilitate passive nighttime cooling by means of natural, stack ventilation. This is accomplished by means of hidden louvers on the south and operable clerestory windows above the stage. An exposed radiant concrete floor slab will provide heating, while below-stage displacement cooling will eliminate the need for ducts. Wall mounted lighting is entirely indirect, leaving the acoustical roof deck free of light fixtures or ducts.

Water from the main roof will be collected by vertical tubes, and discharged into a bioswale, and natural filtration system. The entire process of conveying rainwater from the gutter, into the tubes, then into the bioswale will be visible.

Interior View Looking North at Stage

Cash Conference 2011

Don and John attended the 2011 CASH conference held at the Sacramento Convention Center. The event was attended by nearly 1000 school district personnel, architects, engineers, and contractors involved with the design and construction of school facilities. The theme of this year’s conference was “Your Challenges, Your Solutions, Your Conference”. Many of the workshops and roundtable discussions were focused on high performance schools, and improving academic performance through good design. It was also inspiring to see some of the award winning projects that school districts around the state have recently completed.


Roseland Creek Elementary School Bids!

Roseland Creek Elementary School bids are in and the apparent low bidder is Lathrop Construction at $15,896,000.  This is great news for the District because it includes the cost of the entire school!  There was some concern that if the bids came in high, they would not be able to afford the multi-use building.  We received 6 bids and the three low bids were within $70,000 of one another.  Construction is scheduled to begin in April.

Roseland Creek Elementary School

Roseland Creek School Receives Funding

Bird's Eye View from Burbank Avenue

We had an unexpected phone call from the Roseland School District this morning informing us that they have received state funding for the construction of Roseland Creek School.  This 750 student energy-effiecient elementary school will be built on Burbank Avenue in west Santa Rosa.  It has been awaiting funding for almost 3 years.  The primary challenge in designing this school was accommodating a large student population on a small, 8 acre site.  Our compact ‘urban’ 2-story design solution is unique for an elementary school in our area, and frees up substantial outdoor play area for students.

The Uglies

I found an interesting document on the San Mateo Community College website about common oversights that create “The Uglies”  This is something that we all could spend a few minutes looking at.


The Uglies-San Mateo CCD

From the document:

Okay, so “The Uglies” is not exactly the best way to characterize what’s going on in these photos.

• But there are other things going on that we want to call to your attention, and ask that you do not replicate these conditions in our facilities! These examples illustrate conditions that are:
– Difficult to maintain
– Difficult to operate
– Not durable enough for our institutional or environmental conditions
– And yes, some really are just ugly

Results on the Sonoma County School Bond Measures

Seven out of the eight school bond measures in Sonoma and Napa Counties won approval during last Tuesday’s voting. The vote to increase property taxes will pay for $107 million in construction and maintenance projects, including solar installations and classroom improvements.

TLCD was chosen as the architect for the Bennett Valley School District, which will receive $10.6 million for projects at their Yulupa and Strawberry Elementary School campuses. Other successful school districts include West Sonoma County, Sonoma Valley, Twin Hills, Forestville, St. Helena, and Cloverdale.  Unfortunately, Piner-Olivet District, which we were also awarded work for, did not pass its bond measure.

TLCD’s K12 Education Practice Area has been actively following the bond measures and expects a number of RFPs to be issued within the next few months.

For a full synopsis on the bond measures, check out the article from the Press Democrat.

Exciting developments on the St. Helena Montessori School

Construction Documents for the St. Helena Montessori School and Nimbus Art Center have been submitted for building permit and the Owners are anticipating the start of construction this summer.  The first phase will involve general site preparation with grading and utilities.  Portions of the school program are planned to be housed temporarily at the site (in modular buildings) to allow students to observe their school as it is being built.  Subsequent phases are being reviewed for scheduling and will most likely begin with the Primary/Elementary classrooms.  The graphics for the site plan and selected views will be posted online and at the site for a taste of what will be built over the next couple of years.  We’re excited, along with the School and Arts Community, to see things moving forward!  Check out the flythrough of the site – see below.


SRHS Sign Dedication

Last month, the Santa Rosa High School Foundation and Santa Rosa High School presented a dedication ceremony for their new sign. The sign was given as a gift to commemorate the school and is relevant to the classic brick architecture gracing Mendocino Avenue since 1924.