Santa Monica High School is probably going to look very different in the coming decades.
Officials are working on long-term plans for the Santa Monica-Malibu school district’s flagship campus, a 26-acre facility that serves approximately 3,000 students.
The local Board of Education’s facilities subcommittee recently met with representatives from Rebecca Binder’s architecture firm to continue developing an overall strategy for Samohi.
The high school will see a 47-percent increase in square footage, according to Steve Massetti, the district’s bond program manager.
“We have to go up,” Massetti said, acknowledging the physical barriers surrounding Samohi. “There is no going out.
“There will be dramatic changes on campus over the next couple decades.”
Voters in 2012 approved Measure ES, a $385-million bond for school improvements. The school board has allocated $180 million specifically for upgrades at Samohi.
The recently opened science and technology building, a $55-million project, was constructed using money from Measure BB, a $268-million bond that voters passed in 2006.
Officials have had dozens of meetings with senior district staff and site personnel to assess existing facilities, Massetti said. The input gathered from those meetings was used by Binder’s architecture firm to develop two different construction concepts, which Massetti said will be prepared for board consideration in the comings weeks.
Direction from the board will guide future decisions about the campus, and the draft of a plan for Samohi is expected to be ready by June. Buildings will be capped at four stories in height, Massetti said, with several structures likely to feature first- and second-floor entryways.
Samohi will remain a closed campus for safety reasons, Massetti said. He added that the western end of Michigan Avenue, which stops at the high school, will not include an open promenade, a potential option in previous discussions.
Board member Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein sought a compromise.
“While a campus is closed, there are ways in which it can be appealing,” he said. “The campus needs to be secure, but there are ways in which the aesthetics can be improved … so we’re not appearing as if it’s ‘The Walking Dead.’”
Binder’s firm has worked on numerous architectural projects for educational institutions, including UCLA’s Ackerman Student Union; a visual arts facility at UC San Diego; food, day care and research buildings at UC Irvine; UC Riverside’s Child Development Center; and several L.A. Unified school buildings.
Members of a Samohi site committee were scheduled to meet with Binder’s firm to discuss details of the campus plan. The district’s recently assembled advisory committee on facilities will also weigh in with suggestions.
The comprehensive campus plan for Samohi includes analysis of numerous existing reports, including ones on traffic and archaeology. Officials still have to decide the order of forthcoming projects and where contractors will be staged during construction. Community impacts will also have to be considered, Massetti said.
District officials are involved in ongoing talks with the City of Santa Monica about joint-use options, Massetti said.