TIDE Academy

Menlo Park, California

Three-story Silicon Valley S.T.E.A.M. high school prepares students for the ‘known and the unknown’

The design for the three-story TIDE Academy, a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics)-focused public high school, reimagines the traditional campus to better support career learning and foster connections with local institutions. Located on a two-acre site in a rapidly changing industrial area, the campus promotes student choice, critical thinking and inquiry-based learning, as well as the interdisciplinary instruction necessary to support STEAM curriculums and prepare students for the “known and unknown.”

The TIDE campus — the acronym stands for technology, innovation, design and engineering —forms a protective three-story “U” around a terraced central courtyard, connected by a grand staircase. The campus connects to the sidewalk and street, putting education on display and tying the school to the neighborhood. Located next to the most innovative companies in the world, TIDE was designed to attract industry partnerships and increase links with local universities.

Learning environments are planned to support project-based learning, different forms of collaboration and team teaching. Classrooms and labs were enlarged from the standard model to 1,150 square feet, each with direct access to a colab and outdoor space. “Think tanks” and huddle spaces are associated with every learning studio. Operable walls, writing surfaces and a variety of collaboration spaces offer students choices for where and how to work.

Each floor includes a “learning studio” with classroom and colab space, which can be reconfigured based on the needs of a project. Designated labs focus on science, coding, design, arts and physics. Technology, tools and storage areas in each space can be reconfigured to support different levels of work.

On every level, learning spaces spill into outdoor learning environments through garage-style rollup doors. The outdoor and indoor spaces are designed to intertwine and work together. Spaces can be used for brainstorming or experiments specific to the discipline. Most circulation on the terraced campus is exterior, promoting healthy activity, connections to outdoor activity and student engagement. Shaded decks provide space to collaborate and socialize.

Environmental sensitivity and sustainability are built into every aspect of the campus. There is no student parking for cars; students are encouraged to walk, bike or use public transportation. Energy use was reduced by 67 percent from the industry baseline, entirely through passive design strategies. All of the regularly occupied spaces on campus have access to daylight and views. A mesh scrim surrounds large sections of glass, filtering direct sunlight.

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