HMC Architects and Del Oro High School were honored with a 2024 Concrete Masonry Association of California and Nevada and AIA California (CMACN/AIACA) Concrete Masonry Design Merit Award for Education Design. The 77-acre canvas in Bakersfield, California, has transformed into an innovative high school fostering sustainability, student well-being, and empowerment for at-risk learners to reach their full potential.

Kern High School District (KHSD) is reshaping the future of education for its students and community with Del Oro High School. The new campus encompasses 200,000 SF of innovative student instruction spaces and services, supporting the growth and development of 2,500 students. Every aspect of student life has been thoughtfully considered, from administration and counseling to food service, performing arts, and athletic programs. The campus center building is a vibrant hub, housing the library and cafeteria while facilitating community engagement. With its 600-seat theater, the performing arts center sits proudly at the public-facing corner, serving as a beacon of light, engaging the public to participate in captivating performances and events. The shared athletics complex offers modern facilities, including a three-court gym, locker rooms, sports fields, and a future-planned aquatic center. These well-designed spaces foster collaboration, creativity, and student pride. At the core of the new campus’s design philosophy lies the concept of NextGen learning environments. The goal was to create fluid learning spaces that adapt to different educational delivery methods, group sizes, and technology integration. Flexible interior and exterior spaces provide opportunities for collaboration and accommodate diverse learning styles and programs. Maker spaces and collaboration areas are incubators for creativity and innovation, empowering students to think critically and problem-solve. The use of glass walls in the flexible interior space not only incites curiosity in passing students but also promotes an open and transparent learning environment that fosters a sense of interconnectedness and collaboration within the school community.

The Concrete Masonry Design Awards Program recognizes outstanding architectural design incorporating concrete masonry. This program is sponsored by the Concrete Masonry Association of California and Nevada (CMACN) and co-sponsored by AIA California (AIACA). To read more and see the full list of winners, visit CMACN’s website.