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Childrens Day School at Dolores Park

Jensen Architects, VerPlanck Historic Preservation Consulting

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Project Description


This middle school is an adaptive reuse of the former Mission Park Congregational Church at 601 Dolores Street built in 1910. Its conversion to a school and the addition of a roof deck triggered a comprehensive structural upgrade. Similar to a ship in a bottle, the challenge was to build a structure inside of an existing historic shell. Coordinating with out-of-plumb brick walls presented a challenge, as did the need to keep the nave’s structure and roof intact. The solution comprised of a steel skeleton of beams and columns, composite deck slab, and concrete shear walls that discretely integrate into the building.

The project is an exercise in architectural grafting. 601 Dolores achieves a rich, nuanced dialogue with the existing. In some locations new and old are carefully delineated. In others, modern interventions blend in and take a backseat to historic character. Throughout the building, transparency and compatible finishes allow spaces to flow freely between one another.

In keeping with the school’s environmental mission, renovations incorporate various sustainable features, such as a central natural ventilation chimney and a rooftop garden that reinforces the school’s farm and garden program. The former sanctuary space is transformed into the Founders’ Hall, a new focal point for arts and community life. An array of flexible learning spaces such as the tech-savvy Innovation Lab, provide space for hands-on experimentation. What was once an abandoned building, is now a vibrant community resource with a direct connection to Dolores Park.
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