Project DescriptionThe design of this special high school revolves around the history and context of the rural community it embraces. Plant City, Florida has long been known as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World with it's widely renowned annual Strawberry Festival. This 105-acre site was purchased by the School Board to be master planned for new Elementary, Middle and High Schools centrally located in the Plant City region.
The entire site was farmed for strawberries for decades and is representative of the community’s heritage. The design concept reflects the context of agricultural fields and human cultivation of the land with the end product delivered to the “marketplace” or “market street”. The plan and building forms are skewed, sliced, and tilled like the earth. This pattern is reflected throughout the project in plan, section, material choices and layering. Textured "earth" materials in rows and forms are broken and bound by "steel plows" that define space and function, and express human transformation of the land. Material choices include split face cmu, ground face cmu, stucco, aluminum and glass wall system, and a corrugated metal panel skin. Two massive and skewed covered walkways bisect the rows of classroom buildings and become focal points for students gathering to "see and be seen". Revolving around green design principals, the project takes advantage of an East/West axis, and places the classroom buildings along a major interstate with a retention pond as a buffer. This provides for North light to all the classrooms to maximize daylighting. The southern row of buildings houses the "public" functions including the Administration, Media Center, Gymnasium, Auditorium, Agriculture and Business functions. Together these two "rows" of buildings form an internal open air "market street" for the students to congregate and exchange ideas. In addition to daylighting, the project takes advantage of lower energy use, recycled materials, reduced potable water use, and low maintenance finishes. Intended as a prototype, this 270,000 gsf 2 story High School on 58 acres houses 2500 students including robust athletic and agricultural programs. The facility includes hardened "Enhanced Hurricane Protection Areas" for use as a public emergency shelter. All in all, this school provides the community with a visible landmark along the interstate and a focal point for gathering, while embodying the rural traditions of agriculture, sports, and "marketplace" to foster the exchange of ideas and prepare youth for a higher education.