HMC Architects and the American Institute of Architects Orange County Chapter (AIAOC) are hosting a tour of Portola High School in Irvine, California on July 14. Led by HMC’s Director of Design James Krueger and PreK-12 Regional Practice Leader Angel Hosband, attendees will learn how the unique design helped reduce construction costs by 30 percent, how vegetated roofs helped reduce overall energy usage, how to incorporate solar farms with no impact to the site, and how accessibility is accomplished through interior and exterior learning environments.

Surrounded by regional history and inspired by local geography, Portola High School in Irvine, California, is a twenty-first-century school with flexible open spaces, collaboration zones, and science and innovation labs. It looks and feels more like a college campus than a high school. Irvine Unified School District challenged HMC to design a dynamic environment for this accelerating neighborhood. But before that could happen, developers had to reestablish the land where water was put into large underground pipes. With the water course restored, HMC drew inspiration from this and designed a flowing and organic site plan. Now, a new student center is located in the heart of the campus and functions as a student union, library, ASB classroom, parent center, and innovation lab. An operable glass wall separates the learning commons from the student union and can be opened to create space for special events. The building boasts a passive green roof that utilizes energy savings systems—while also providing a sustainable living lab from which students can learn. Classroom buildings are clustered to promote cross collaboration between students, teachers, and different disciplines, with second-floor walkways connecting the learning clusters. The site rests on the edge of a new planned development surrounding the Great Park. Once home to the Irvine Ranch and former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, the site is now home to a 21st-century school with learning at every turn.

For more than 160 years, members of the American Institute of Architects have worked to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. AIAOC empowers architects and design professionals in service to the local Orange County, California community. For more information and to register, visit AIAOC’s website.