Sonoma Academy’s Janet Durgin Guild & Commons
Architect: WRNS Studio
Owner: Sonoma Academy
Location: Santa Rosa, California
Project site: Previously developed land
Building program type(s): Education – K-12 School
Embedded with maker/digital classrooms, productive gardens, offices and a full dining/kitchen, Sonoma Academy’s guiding principles of equity, community, and exploration inspired the Guild & Commons two sweeping floors, which stretch to views and integrate into the land. Sliding screens, automated shades, deep overhangs relay how the building responds to climate. Regionally sourced low carbon block, ceramic tiles, reclaimed beams, exterior and interior siding, pair with regionally made lamps and furniture to celebrate community. The living roof attracts pollinators, houses photovoltaics, and connects to tiered planters that filter greywater and stormwater for reuse. The project seeks LEED, ZNE, WELL, LBC certification.
"This project demonstrates that, even with an energy-heavy program that includes a commercial kitchen, a fully integrated and dedicated design team can produce a beautiful and extremely well-performing building." ~ Jury statement
A place to be loud and not heard, a nook to reflect, a place that explains, expresses and transforms. Sonoma Academy created guiding principles that spoke to equity, community and exploration. The building and site attempts to stretch out and reflect the site and community. Sited at the base of Taylor Mountains, the landscape rushes down the hill and over the building. It integrates into the land and contributes back in native plantings that invite pollinators. The dining rooms open to the hill and city, with deep overhangs providing shading and intimate in-between spaces. The dining room is for gathering and meeting and one-on-one connecting. Big farm tables made locally provide collaboration space while bar height counters provide an option for much needed focus. The teaching kitchen doubles as classroom, meeting room and event spaces – with views to the west. Maker spaces open out to the productive garden for extended classroom space. The garden acts as classroom, park and gallery. Making with tools, making with food, and making with technology blend at the garden. The beauty of the site inspired the organization of two sweeping floors that stretch to views, grab onto the hillside and work to blend this campus with many levels. With the open sliding doors, students are encouraged to wander in and through, making this building a part of everyday pathways. Exposing the materials, the radiant manifolds, the structure and the systems, invites the user into the daily functions of the building. Biophilic principles providing guidance for planning and material selection – everything was thought of as a critical piece of the story. The resultant design strengthens the strong sense of place apparent in the school and tells the story of the region’s architecture, landscape, people, sustainability, and everyday life.