Two years ago, the La Cañada Unified School District staff presented conceptual design options for the modernization of Paradise Canyon Elementary School to district leaders.
Now, with officials looking forward to the start of construction this year, architects hired by the district have provided an update on the project, including their proposals for the buildings’ exterior colors and the addition of solar panels.
The LCUSD Governing Board is reviewing those ideas after hearing the report from Seth Barnard of the architectural firm Gonzalez Goodale Architects at a public meeting this month. Each of the options Barnard presented was developed to address the need to modernize the campus.
“In the last several months, the architects have continued to develop, refine the design, and completed the related design development phase,” Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said of the project, for which construction is expected to finish in 2027.
Barnard told the Outlook Valley Sun that two new classroom buildings will be built and that existing classroom buildings that will remain in use will be modernized and updated to meet current code standards. The outdoor spaces between these new and modernized classrooms will receive an updated landscape design, such as planting, seating and walkways. The school’s upper and lower playground areas will also be renovated in the final phase of construction, the architect said.
Barnard and his firm got inspiration for the brick material that will be on the new buildings from the Angeles National Forest. The goal of this month’s meeting was to introduce the color samples that the design committee, consisting of parents, board members and other local residents, drafted for the district.
The architect displayed two colors of brick (in shades of gray and tan) and two palettes for the exterior paint (shades of red and blue) as recommended options after those involved in the project examined 50 palettes and four brick colors with the design committee.
The colors chosen and presented to the district were based on “how they would fit with the existing buildings to create a cohesive campus between the new buildings and the existing buildings,” said Barnard.
Barnard described the color options as warm and cool.
A 2022 update of the California Energy Code requires that all new nonresidential construction include photovoltaic panels be installed on buildings.
“It’s not a challenge, it’s more of an opportunity,” said Barnard.
The team presented three options on how the district could follow the code for the construction on PCY.
- Utilize all the roof surface to install photovoltaic panels.
- Place panels on only the roofs of the two-story building, or
- Place panels only on one roof, the minimum requirement.
Gonzalez Goodale has in-house capabilities to design the solar panel distribution, but has also hired a solar designer to design the system and provide a set of drawings that would go out to bid.
After 10-14 years, the solar panels would basically pay for themselves if they were installed on all the roof surfaces, Barnard said; after that, “Energy would just be generating, and you wouldn’t be paying an electrical bill.”
Governing Board President Joe Radabaugh asked him about the roofing material, wondering aloud about its durability.
Barnard said that the material is standing seam aluminum panel and that it is durable but also allows the panels to be clipped to a roof, avoiding the need to puncture and penetrate it.
“You can walk on it, you’re not walking on a thin sheet of metal,” said Barnard, because plywood would be under it.
“What is the timeline on these decisions?” Radabaugh asked.
The main purpose is to get the board’s direction and preferences, after it has some time to look at the renderings, said Sinnette.
After that, the board will give feedback to the design committee, Sinnette added.
“The more you give people a chance to weigh in and assess, the better. I think if we had [materials that the architects showed at the meeting] at the sites for a while … we can get a general consensus and try to get back to GGA soon,” she said.
The first phase of the new construction will involve new buildings along Gould Avenue.
The next phase includes the modernization of current buildings, and the final phase is construction on the north campus building.
As for the construction timeline, “We’re working really hard to accelerate that schedule as much as possible, but I think we’re on track to be in a good place,” said Barnard.
First published in the March 23 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.