Schools, like their students, may grow taller
Architects envision two-story classrooms for MV Whisman
Mountain View Whisman schools could grow vertically to accommodate increasing enrollment, if initial designs presented to trustees by an architecture firm are any indication.
At the board's Thursday, Feb. 4 meeting, representatives from Bill Gould Design Art & Architecture presented concepts for all school sites, based on a brainstorming session held by trustees in December. Among the ideas was the addition of two-story classroom buildings at nearly all of the district's nine sites, as well as a new track at Crittenden Middle School.
Bill Gould himself said that building upward would make room for rising student enrollment. In a demographic analysis prepared last summer, it was projected that enrollment could grow by as much as 15 percent over the next 10 years. He added that two-story classrooms will preserve green space and play areas on the campuses.
"We're illustrating concepts, and that's all it is at this point," he told the Voice. The proposals are part of the Student Facilities Improvement Plan, which is reevaluated and approved every 10 years with the primary goals of making every facility safe for use and upgrading outdated systems.
Another major proposal made at last Thursday's meeting was to expand the Castro and Stevenson campuses to allow for two schools at each site.
Craig Goldman, the district's chief financial officer, said that if Castro expanded to two full schools, it could enroll up to 600 students per school in order to accommodate the high-density neighborhood.
Stevenson, he said, could be renovated to hold two "boutique" schools. He said it would "open up the possibilities" if the district wanted to house a specialty program, or even a charter school, in the future. In the meantime, he said, the district office could occupy the space or the district could lease it out to earn extra revenue.
Gould explained how significant the physicality of a campus can be to a student's education. The library, office and multiuse room should "create the hub and the living room of the campus," he said. "We also want to use buildings to create sort of a protected and enclosed area, so when the kids go through either an actual or metaphorical gateway into the campus, this is their home during the day."
"It's also an easily understood environment," he added. "Where buildings are, and the scale of the buildings and how they orient to their playground areas — and their use."
In addition to designing for the students, Gould said, some parts of the campus should be accessible by the larger community.
"We want the multi-use rooms to be fairly close to the front of the campus," he said, with "lots of community interface."
"What we try to do is put them in a location (where) there's an easy link to the interior of the campus and also an easy link to the community."
The districts' facilities were evaluated for this round of renovations last spring. At the time, administrators estimated that it could cost $191 million over the next 10 years to implement the plans.
Administrators, trustees and representatives of the architecture firm expressed concern that no one from the community attended last week's presentation. They planned to hold a forum specifically for parents and community members to comment on the plans on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Theuerkauf Elementary multi-use room (MUR), 1625 San Luis Ave., Mountain View.
For more information, or to view the conceptual designs presented last week, visit www.mvwsd.org and look under the Feb. 4 school board agenda.
E-mail Kelsey Mesher at firstname.lastname@example.org