Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pescadero Elementary School Visit Observations

So the good and bad of Pescadero elementary school. These are Reiko's observations... Dannon, SAM and J, if you have anything to add, please post!

The Site:
Most of the structures at the site were portables. There was an existing multipurpose room, that was sectioned off to be a first grade class. The other part was used as cafeteria. The structure has open insulation on the roof that gets bird infestation, and the insulation falls down on people, which is gross because it's also used as a cafeteria. The structure's tall, and is about 30' tall?

There are two rows of portables. The first row has the office and kindergarten. These are the ones that are being taken away. The second row has 1-4th grade and bathrooms. These are the good ones that they like. We were able to visit Katy in 4th grade. We didn't get to visit the kindergarten. The kindergarten has a fenced play area... and the layout reminded me of row houses in Baltimore with the back yard fenced off in neat rows so you can see everyone's back yard.

The playground: was mostly unuseable just until recently. Construction job haulted suddenly and left the metal fence around prohibiting the kids to play in their play ground. Parts of the play ground are still off limits... like the community garden, the play structure and the soccer field.

Kids: Ok. Despite the fact that the 6 kids that I was doing the group activity with... two of the boys started to hit each other... the kids are pretty amazingly happy and well behaved... I mean, compared to the kids in Oakland... these kids were really reallly really wholesome. They like each other and are pretty cooperative with each other. There's no suspension, no confescation of drugs, and only two pocket knives were confescated last year.

Storage: There's very little resources to teach.. And the teacher needs to conserve everything... including paper and glue and pencils. There's not a lot of storage inside for everything. So the classroom looks a bit like a mess. All the kids leave their back packs in the hall, which is really cute. There's no theft that happens, and the large eave protects the back packs from rain.

Connection to Outside: The classrooms are arranged much like a bungalow. Between each activity, such as recess and lunch time, the kids go out side to go into the bathroom, or the cafeteria. The outside is really beautiful. There's too much black top, and the outside can be something more pleasant.

The kids often play in the field to look for lady bugs, cows, horses.

It would be good to keep the same kind of connection to the outdoors... Since this is what makes Pescadero soooo sooo special. Some of the kids and the teacher talked about larger windows, and gardens between the portables. So I wonder how we can maximize nature into the school ground... Play structures can be found everywhere... but to these kids.. having such a direct contact with nature as part of their development is really special.

The classrooms them selves can become more technologically advanced. All the kids talked about how they wanted laptops. Why not?

It is really hard to find the entrance to the site in both the elementary and middle school, because they're all identical portables. How can we mediate this? Can we direct flow of traffic using signage? If they are going to have portable like building for everything... how can they organize the buildings in such a way to give a clear entry into the site?

In terms of rehab... the current portables need to be raised off of the ground, and they need to be fire sprinklered to become compliant. The portables are also cold, so better climate control. The multipurpose space can be rehabbed... cover the roof, more windows, and better HVAC. I think geothermic radiant floor heating would be the best solution for a structure that's that tall and spacious.

So we have a chance to design a super duper school... I mean, the site and the kids and the community has soooo much to offer, and the school itself is the saddest thing ever. How can such a beautiful place with so many jolly kids be in such a sad little place? We can try to accentuate their goodness and design a school that the kids would be really proud to have gone to as a kid. And maybe our design can be incorporated into DSK's design. Maybe we can bring in everything that the teachers and the parents like about the site and the school and make it into something that they would stride to make happen after this competition is over.

Oh, so.. if you're going to visit Pescadero... we found an amazing restaurant with great artichoke soup and sour dough bread and pie... and a goat cheese farm that also sells goose eggs.

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