Saddleback Valley USD recently celebrated the opening of El Toro High School’s modernization and addition with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Built in partnership with Balfour Beatty and SVUSD, the $8 million project features a 7,000 square-foot library modernization, 16,700 square-foot classroom building modernization, and a 2,000 square-foot demonstration classroom addition.

In order to relieve a densely overcrowded facility and create more classroom space, we designed a future-focused learning environment that offers both students and teachers a variety of curriculum delivery opportunities and options for greater collaboration. Existing classrooms are reorganized around a commons area accessible to all passively encouraging students and teachers to interact. This district pilot project is changing long-established norms on how teachers view ownership of classrooms thereby increasing the capacity of the campus without building a magnitude of new classrooms on an existing campus.

The high school’s existing library was renovated into a modern media innovation center consistent with the premise of flexibility, opportunity, and driven by technology. A new entry gateway was designed, and the parking lot was modified for safety. The design of the lecture demonstration space addition and media innovation center considers potential active shooter considerations and implements passive safety measures, such as angled walls and functional window heights, to keep students safe.

The modernization project is an example to other schools throughout the district that an older facility can be modernized and transformed into a future-focused learning environment.

The ceremony was held on February 21. In attendance were representatives from the SVUSD Board of Education, District Leadership, City of Lake Forest, Citizens Oversight Committee, El Toro High School Leadership and Students, HMC, other District architects and Community members.