Rancho Dominguez Preparatory School

Client: Los Angeles Unified School District
Services Provided: Master Planning, Programming, Design, Construction Documents, Construction Administration
Project Location: Long Beach, CA
Site: 13.7 Acres
Project Size: 272,106 sf
Capacity: 1,809 Students
Completion Date: August 2011
Sustainability: CHPS Guidelines
Program: 67 Classrooms/4 Learning Communities, Gymnasium/Indoor Sports Complex, Shower/Lockers, Food Service/Cafeteria, Library/Media Center, College and Career Center, Administration, Performing Arts/Multi-Purpose Complex, Stadium Building, Covered Areas, Underground Parking

Built on the border of a Carson residential neighborhood in an industrial section of Long Beach, this school relieves overcrowding in surrounding high schools. The 4‐story building complex, over underground parking, serves 1,800 students in 272,106 square feet. This new School for LAUSD  includes a small middle school, a ninth-grade academy and two themed academies for 10th through 12th grade.

The campus is organized to create and serve the Small Learning Community (SLC) concept. All the facilities that serve both the students and the community are located on the ground level. A unique ground level facility is the “Great Room”, a multi-purpose complex which accommodates indoor sports, large group events and performing arts. Above the first level are 4 multi‐story vertically organized small learning communities which are comprised of a small administrative area, general classrooms, science laboratories and support spaces. This arrangement allows the four learning communities to function as independent schools.

“The Great Room”:  Designing educational facilities that support student achievement is paramount.  A facility that links itself to the business and local community can offer students many pathways to success.  So, providing public and community access to the complex was a high priority. Creating access to the business and local community presents challenges to student safety and each entity has differing functional space needs. The solution was to weave student achievement and community support together, creating a specific focal space in the high school. The nexus was termed, “The Great Room”.

tBP‘s design team created a multi-purpose space that supports many different types of large group events while infusing curriculum-driven themes and a scholastic achievement focus. One evening the Carson Playhouse conducts a theatrical performance in the Theater end of the room and the next night the Rancho Dominguez is hosting the CIF volleyball championship game accommodating 2000 screaming fans. During school hours, the same space, during both days, supports the lunch crowd eating and socializing.  Our approach to the Great Room was to first understand the perspectives of each seemingly disparate group, find the commonalities between the needs and desires, and then create a blended space that meets all needs. Understanding their goals, thinking creatively and establishing clear communication channels allowed us to solve the challenge systematically. We tested options until the right solution presented itself. It is gratifying when you hear students, parents and local community members side by side cheering, screaming and enjoying themselves.

The site is bounded by high tension electrical wires on the south, a railroad spur on the east, a main arterial road on the west and to the north, the City of Carsonʹs parkland; which with a joint use agreement, houses a softball field and tennis courts.

Rancho Dominguez Preparatory School exceeds the Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) requirements. Features include:  energy performance is 22.61% better than 2005 Title 24; water usage is a 20% reduction; energy commissioning occurred to ensure energy goals were met; percentage of materials with recycled content; controlled daylighting and expansive views.