Sonoma Academy is a private, college-preparatory high school located at the base of Santa Rosa's Taylor Mountain Preserve. This pristine rural location provides exceptional views of the community below, as well as significant opportunities for integrating sustainable practices into the design and operation of the campus.
With a goal of "sitting lightly on the land,” the design looked to hill-town precedents in positioning primary pedestrian streets along the natural contours of the site. Activities representing the core components of education — formal academics (Library), the arts (Theater) and physical development (Gymnasium) — were situated at the intersection of the two main pedestrian streets. Facilities to accommodate the users of this learning environment — teachers and administrative staff (Offices) and students (Student Center) — were also located at this central location. Forming the functional and symbolic hub of campus, this active and vibrant gathering place embodies the school's multi-faceted, integrated studies approach to education. Placing an emphasis on flexible learning environments, all 30 classrooms have immediate access to outdoor spaces designed to vary in both size and character, allowing for a multitude of uses throughout the school year.
Additionally, most classrooms include natural day-lighting and cross-ventilation through operable windows. All of these measures significantly reduce the energy used to condition and operate the campus. Other sustainable design measures include integrating the pre-existing wetland into the master plan, using permeable paving surfaces where possible and constructing on-site rainwater retention ponds for the capture and re-discharge of rainwater.