Orange County School Opens Academic Building to Support Collaborative Learning Environments

(SANTA ANA, Calif.) November 18, 2015 — Designed by one of the largest integrated design firms in California, Irvine-based LPA Inc., the Samueli Academy is a 480-student charter high school which is a program of Orangewood Foundation. The school celebrated the grand opening of their first permanent academic building this fall. Samueli Academy offers local foster and community youth a new choice for their high school education.

The three-story, 30,000-square-foot building features innovative learning spaces that support the engineering and design pathways in their STEM focused, project-based curriculum.

Principal Wendy Rogers, FAIA, said, “It has been a rewarding opportunity for the LPA integrated team to design a school that supports such an innovative approach to education.” She continued “Each time I visit, I am awed by the passion and enthusiasm displayed by both the teachers and students as they learn together—they are as vibrant as the interior of this building.”

Each floor of the new building features a STEM lab and four learning studios that share a collaborative learning commons. Flexibility is imperative for supporting multiple teaching models and allowing a project-based learning environment to thrive. Walls open, furniture rolls and collaboration are supported within classrooms, common areas and even in cozy corridor wall niches along with inspirational graphics.

As the first phase to be completed in the high school's master plan design, the 7.1-acre campus will feature a student union, gymnasium, specialized learning studios and a residential village to board 80 foster youth and their guardian families. Designed as a vibrant “live and learn” urban village, the campus is intended to be an inspirational sustainable environment where learning happens everywhere. The project will receive LEED for Schools certification.

For the residential students the place where they “live and learn” must create a variety of spaces that can inspire and
guide them to become productive in their academic careers which can lead to lifelong success.

The Orangewood Foundation has found that by the time a foster child starts high school they have had as many as 10 placements and attended as many as 15 different schools. Creating a strong educationally-focused community, with joint-use and industry partnerships was part of the mission for the school and LPA has designed a campus where students can have a stable environment and thrive academically, socially and emotionally.

About LPA Inc.

Founded in 1965, LPA has more than 300 employees with offices in San Antonio and Irvine, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose, California. The firm provides services in architecture, sustainability, planning, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering and graphics. There is no “Sustainability Director,” at LPA. Instead, nearly 70 percent of the professionals are LEED accredited, including the Human Resources Director, CFO, and several other support staff. With extensive experience in public and private architecture, LPA designs a diversity of facilities that span from K-12 schools, colleges and universities to corporate and civic establishments. More than 600 major design awards attest to LPA’s commitment to design excellence. For more information, visit

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