Trouble-free navigation

The architect was challenged to make Boulder Creek High School, Anthem, Ariz., which sits on 55 acres and occupies 330,000 square feet, easy for students and staff to navigate. The facility has a spine that curves in response to the wash that once moved water through the site. The organization of this main spine is recalled vertically by a substantial 12-inch-thick curving wall colored in contrast to the adjacent materials.

Eight distinct “houses” or clusters allow students to change classes within the house rather than walk across the large campus from one building to another. Classroom houses are positioned off this spine. These smaller learning communities give students a more personable experience.

At each building, each house uses color as a wayfinding tool to help students find their classrooms more easily. Soffits and entry features that display house colors are situated at the intersections of the house corridors. This curving circulation spine organizes the various functions, and moves through buildings and out as a covered walkway.

Three points of entry accommodate student access. The bus drop aligns with an outdoor monumental stair that bisects the two-story classroom houses. The second entry is between student services and the library. Because of the joint-use library, adjacency at this point of entry separates library visitors from students entering the campus. The third point of entry is from the sports and performing-arts plazas. All entries are secured with gates, along with electronic surveillance.

The architect is DLR Group (Phoenix).

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