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A Building to Teach a Growing Community

The Pacific Trails Middle School received an award from the Concrete Masonry Association of California and Nevada (CMACN) and the American Institute of Architects, California Council’s (AIACC) 2017 Concrete Masonry Design Awards. 

K-12, student, teach

As a new and growing community, the Pacific Highlands Ranch neighborhood in northern San Diego, was ready for a new middle school to accommodate the growth. In 2012, with a long range facilities master plan complete, San Dieguito Union High School District (SDUHSD) passed a $449 bond initiative that outlined a vision for sustainable and technology-rich learning environments for each of SDUHSD’s campuses.

The new Pacific Trails Middle School, planned for 1,000 students, is part of the neighborhood center, adjacent to the existing Canyon Crest Academy high school and a community park. Immediately across the street are the Town Center retail and service functions. These public functions combine to create a focal point for the growing community. It was the intent of the project design to be a more youthful complement to the adjacent high school, using a brighter color palette and student-centric design strategies.

Designed to Teach, Built to Grow

Designed around a central student quad, outdoor dining commons and adjacent Media Center, the campus core feels more like a college Student Union than middle school campus, providing student gathering, dining and outdoor learning spaces. The first phase included an Administration Building, Gymnasium, Multipurpose Building, Learning Resource Center, Food Service and a Classroom Building.

Leveraging the concept of “Buildings that Teach”, each new building includes exposed braced frames, designed to meet critical seismic demands as well as the District’s aesthetic goals. At the new campus’ front door, CMU blocks provide a durable, yet welcoming and permanent design aesthetic, while at the new two-story classroom building, a large CMU veneer wing wall cuts into the building, carrying the CMU from the exterior to the interior. The same CMU blocks are used as accents in seating areas and outdoor gathering spaces throughout the site to provide a cost-effective approach to design continuity throughout the campus.


Block Producer: ORCO Block & Hardscape, Oceanside, CA
New Dimensions Masonry, San Diego, CA

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