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Diamond Ranch High School

Diamond Ranch High School engages architecture in the act of education; it speaks to students experientially through a physically kinetic architectural language that makes no references to traditional typology, but rather looks elsewhere to encourage student inquiry and provoke curiosity. The opportunity existed, by virtue of the steeply sloped site, to explore the hybrid territory of an augmented landscape wherein building and site would be perceptually interchangeable. The jagged and inherently unstable forms of the Los Angeles foothills inform the language of the buildings as the scheme takes its organizational cues from the natural topography.

Diamond Ranch High School - Courtesy of Morphosis Architects

Diamond Ranch High School – Courtesy of Morphosis Architects

Two rows of fragmented, interlocking forms are set tightly on either side of a long central “canyon,” or street, which cuts through the face of the hillside as might a geologic fault line. The street provides the primary opportunity for students to interact haphazardly or by plan with one another, with teachers and with administrators as they move about the campus. Seeking to create a counterpoint to Diamond Ranch’s suburban context, the sense of an urban experience is intensified via the compression of the street. A monumental stairway which functions doubly as an outdoor amphitheater is embedded in the hillside, leading from the school’s main academic areas to the roof terrace and football field above.

Diamond Ranch High School - Courtesy of Morphosis Architects

Diamond Ranch High School – Courtesy of Morphosis Architects

The site plan defines three distinct “schools within a school” — clusters of semi-independent units that each integrate a full curriculum segregated by grade-level to foster team teaching in a more intimate educational setting. Landscaped outdoor teaching areas act as courtyard buffers between buildings and punctuate the classroom units with views of mountains and sky. The intention of the whole is to challenge the message sent by a society that routinely communicates its disregard for the young by educating them in cheap institutional boxes surrounded by impenetrable chain link fencing.

Diamond Ranch High School - Courtesy of Morphosis Architects

Diamond Ranch High School – Courtesy of Morphosis Architects

Project Info
Architects: Morphosis Architects
Location: California, USA
Project Architect: John Enright
Project Designer: Fabian Kremkus
Team: Sarah Allan, Cameron Crockett, Cameron Crockett, Dave Grant, Dave Grant, Janice Shimizu, Patrick Tighe
Design Year: 1994 – 1996
Construction Year: 1997 – 1999
Client: Pomona Unified School District
Type: Educational

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