Contract - The School on the Hill: The Branson School in Ross, Calif., designed by Turnbull Griffin Haesloop

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The School on the Hill: The Branson School in Ross, Calif., designed by Turnbull Griffin Haesloop

28 June, 2010

-By Amy Milshtein



Pretty is as pretty does. But that is never enough. Charming as the campus of The Branson School in Ross, Calif., is, the independent high school needed improvement to keep up with the demands of modern education. Enter Turnbull Griffin Haesloop with a solution that’s green, neighbor-friendly, and beautiful.

Founded in 1920, The Branson School used to be both a day and boarding school. Today it is an independent high school set on a 17-acre campus in the residential community of Ross, about 11 miles north of San Francisco. Even though no one lives on campus anymore, the site is filled with small houses that had been jiggered to accommodate classrooms and services for the school’s 320 co-ed students.

The buildings and site are not short on charm, but they lacked functionality—an observation all too obvious to Mary Griffin, FAIA, a principal at Turnbull Griffin Haesloop, whose children attended the school. “Knitting the campus together was the real challenge,” she remembers. “They had this wonderful location with great buildings, but nothing really supported the quality education that the school was delivering.”

Andrew Pauley, the school’s director of finance and operations, agrees. “We had computer wires looped through basement windows,” he admits. “It was time to do the upgrade that the school needed and students deserved.”

The Branson School took the neighbors into account when renovating the campus. As an independent school, it remains important to keep activity facing inward and not overly tax local roads and resources. Turnbull Griffin Haesloop took the first step by moving the commons dining area away from the front gate, instead situating it in the heart of the grounds. Connected to the main path of student travel, the commons now works as the nexus of the campus.

With a limit to how much square footage the school could build, the architect took advantage of the area’s excellent microclimate by designing the commons as an indoor/outdoor space. Large garage doors flip up, allowing students to spill onto the courtyard at will. The building itself is a transparent wall of individual panels of glass separated by timbers all set under a sloping roof. The mirage-like effect fits the existing campus well while looking crisp, clean, and modern.

Along with the commons, Turnbull Griffin Haesloop constructed a fine arts building. Like the commons, it is outward facing, stepped around mature trees that have been cleaned up to reveal their beauty. In fact, the entire grounds were improved during the project, including water management, grounds work, and a new computer network infrastructure. “I have to commend the school for doing all the work
at once instead of in phases,” says Griffin. “It was a huge undertaking, but they weren’t daunted.”

The school also committed to building as sustainably as possible, attempting a LEED Platinum rating, which is difficult to achieve considering there is no public transportation to the site. Green strategies include: a living roof, radiant heating, natural ventilation, photovoltaic panels, and pervious paving. “Getting this project done on budget and in 15 months was a huge challenge,” recalls Pauley. “The different teams pushed themselves as hard and far as they could.”

Both client and architect are pleased with the result. “The campus has been transformed from a beautiful place to a beautiful place that serves the students and staff,” says Griffin. “The site is now tailored to work for the school.” Grounds are more comfortable for walking and playing, services like counseling are grouped in the commons area now instead of all over campus, different varieties of performances have taken place in the music room, and no one is tripping over computer wires.

“It has the same level of beauty but with a high level of functionality,” concludes Griffin. And that earns an A.


who
Owner: The Branson School. Architect, interior designer: Turnbull Griffin Haesloop; Mary Griffin, FAIA, Eric Haesloop, FAIA, Evan Markiewicz, Georgianna Salz, John Kleman, architecture project team; interior design project team: Margaret Simon, ASID. Structural engineer: Fratessa Forbes Wong. Sustainability consultant: Loisos + Ubbelohde. Lighting: O’Mahony & Myer. Kitchen: Presidio Design Group, Inc. Landscape architect: Landscape Office Ltd. Graphics: Urbain Design. Acoustician: Walsh-Norris Associates. Furniture dealer: Workspace Solutions. Contractor: Herrero Contractors, Inc. Photographer: David Wakely Photography.

what
Wallcoverings: Carnegie Xorel, Forbo Marmoleum. Laminate: Pionite. Flooring: Scofield Lithachrome Stain. Ceiling: Tectum. Lighting: Pinnacle; BK; Exceline. Doors: Renlita Overhead Doors. Window treatments: Mechoshade. Cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating: TMC Furniture. Cafeteria, dining, training tables: Teknion. Architectural woodworking: Plyboo. Signage: Urbain Design.

where
Location: Ross, CA. Total floor area: 7,550 sq. ft. (student commons); 3,300 sq. ft. (fine arts center). No. of floors: 1. Total staff size: 320 students, 100 staff.



The School on the Hill: The Branson School in Ross, Calif., designed by Turnbull Griffin Haesloop

28 June, 2010


David Wakely Photography

Pretty is as pretty does. But that is never enough. Charming as the campus of The Branson School in Ross, Calif., is, the independent high school needed improvement to keep up with the demands of modern education. Enter Turnbull Griffin Haesloop with a solution that’s green, neighbor-friendly, and beautiful.

Founded in 1920, The Branson School used to be both a day and boarding school. Today it is an independent high school set on a 17-acre campus in the residential community of Ross, about 11 miles north of San Francisco. Even though no one lives on campus anymore, the site is filled with small houses that had been jiggered to accommodate classrooms and services for the school’s 320 co-ed students.

The buildings and site are not short on charm, but they lacked functionality—an observation all too obvious to Mary Griffin, FAIA, a principal at Turnbull Griffin Haesloop, whose children attended the school. “Knitting the campus together was the real challenge,” she remembers. “They had this wonderful location with great buildings, but nothing really supported the quality education that the school was delivering.”

Andrew Pauley, the school’s director of finance and operations, agrees. “We had computer wires looped through basement windows,” he admits. “It was time to do the upgrade that the school needed and students deserved.”

The Branson School took the neighbors into account when renovating the campus. As an independent school, it remains important to keep activity facing inward and not overly tax local roads and resources. Turnbull Griffin Haesloop took the first step by moving the commons dining area away from the front gate, instead situating it in the heart of the grounds. Connected to the main path of student travel, the commons now works as the nexus of the campus.

With a limit to how much square footage the school could build, the architect took advantage of the area’s excellent microclimate by designing the commons as an indoor/outdoor space. Large garage doors flip up, allowing students to spill onto the courtyard at will. The building itself is a transparent wall of individual panels of glass separated by timbers all set under a sloping roof. The mirage-like effect fits the existing campus well while looking crisp, clean, and modern.

Along with the commons, Turnbull Griffin Haesloop constructed a fine arts building. Like the commons, it is outward facing, stepped around mature trees that have been cleaned up to reveal their beauty. In fact, the entire grounds were improved during the project, including water management, grounds work, and a new computer network infrastructure. “I have to commend the school for doing all the work
at once instead of in phases,” says Griffin. “It was a huge undertaking, but they weren’t daunted.”

The school also committed to building as sustainably as possible, attempting a LEED Platinum rating, which is difficult to achieve considering there is no public transportation to the site. Green strategies include: a living roof, radiant heating, natural ventilation, photovoltaic panels, and pervious paving. “Getting this project done on budget and in 15 months was a huge challenge,” recalls Pauley. “The different teams pushed themselves as hard and far as they could.”

Both client and architect are pleased with the result. “The campus has been transformed from a beautiful place to a beautiful place that serves the students and staff,” says Griffin. “The site is now tailored to work for the school.” Grounds are more comfortable for walking and playing, services like counseling are grouped in the commons area now instead of all over campus, different varieties of performances have taken place in the music room, and no one is tripping over computer wires.

“It has the same level of beauty but with a high level of functionality,” concludes Griffin. And that earns an A.


who
Owner: The Branson School. Architect, interior designer: Turnbull Griffin Haesloop; Mary Griffin, FAIA, Eric Haesloop, FAIA, Evan Markiewicz, Georgianna Salz, John Kleman, architecture project team; interior design project team: Margaret Simon, ASID. Structural engineer: Fratessa Forbes Wong. Sustainability consultant: Loisos + Ubbelohde. Lighting: O’Mahony & Myer. Kitchen: Presidio Design Group, Inc. Landscape architect: Landscape Office Ltd. Graphics: Urbain Design. Acoustician: Walsh-Norris Associates. Furniture dealer: Workspace Solutions. Contractor: Herrero Contractors, Inc. Photographer: David Wakely Photography.

what
Wallcoverings: Carnegie Xorel, Forbo Marmoleum. Laminate: Pionite. Flooring: Scofield Lithachrome Stain. Ceiling: Tectum. Lighting: Pinnacle; BK; Exceline. Doors: Renlita Overhead Doors. Window treatments: Mechoshade. Cafeteria, dining, auditorium seating: TMC Furniture. Cafeteria, dining, training tables: Teknion. Architectural woodworking: Plyboo. Signage: Urbain Design.

where
Location: Ross, CA. Total floor area: 7,550 sq. ft. (student commons); 3,300 sq. ft. (fine arts center). No. of floors: 1. Total staff size: 320 students, 100 staff.
 


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