ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO
ALBUQUERQUE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT
WINDOM KIMSEY, KEVIN KEMNER
When completed in 2008, Volcano Vista High School was the Albuquerque Public School District’s first new high school project in nearly 20 years. The school represented the district’s desire to improve student learning through facility design and improved teaching practices.
Utilizing national and self-generated research, the district established that the new high school would be organized in small learning communities of 125 students with the intention of improving student peer support, teacher contact, and student socialization.
These small learning communities are furthered organized in academies including five discipline focused academies and one ninth grade academy. These academies are essentially small individual schools within the larger high school and are fully programmed including administration, lockers, food service and technology classrooms. It was anticipated that students would spend up to 80 percent of their day in their academy.
Individual academies and major program functions are treated as individual buildings arranged along a central spine. The individual academies are each organized around a light-filled commons space that serves for group activities and food service functions. The spine serves to allow interior circulation to shared functions such as art and science classrooms, physical education, and central administration and parenting offices. The spine also serves to negotiate the site slope over the length of the project campus.
The project site was master planned to function as a comprehensive education center with K-12 facilities. An adjacent segment of the site was further master planned to function as a community recreation center with dual use sharing agreements with the district. This project was developed in partnership with SMPC Architects.