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  Riverbend Elementary School

Riverbend Elementary SchoolArchitect

Nacht & Lewis Architects
600 Q Street, #100, Sacramento, CA 95811

General Description

Location: Yuba City, California
Date Bid: Apr 2006 Construction Period: Apr 2006 to July 2007
Total Square Feet: 86,000 Site: 21 acres.
Number of Buildings: 13 – 3 site built, 10 modular. 46 classrooms seating 1,300 students; Auditorium, 4,946 sq. ft. seating 733 occupants; Gym, 5,968 sq. ft. seating 771 occupants.
Building Size: First floor, 86,000; total, 86,000 square feet.
Building Height: First floor, 38’6”; total, 38’6”.
Basic Construction Type: New/Structural steel braced frame (CHPS Certified). Foundation: Cast-in-place, slab-on-grade. Exterior Walls: CMU, storefront, cement plaster. Roof: Metal, modified bitumen. Floors: Concrete. Interior Walls: Metal stud drywall.
Projected and/or modeled energy usage KBTU/SF/yr: 102.17 kBTU/sq.ft.yr

Construction Team

Owner: Yuba City School Unified District - 750 Palora Avenue, Yuba City, CA 95991
General Contractor: Sundt Construction - 2860 Gateway Oaks Drive, #300, Sacramento, CA 95833
Structural Engineer: Buehler & Buehler Structural Engineers - 600 Q Street, #200, Sacramento, CA 95811
Mechanical Engineer: Capital Engineering Consultants, Inc. - 11020 Sun Center Drive, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
Electrical Engineer: The Engineering Enterprise - 853 Lincoln Way, #105, Auburn, CA 95603

The Riverbend Elementary School is modeled around a K-8 curriculum model. This program presents unique challenges in dealing with such diverse age groups. Special attention was required to address the unique needs of younger kindergarten children and the advanced curriculum needs of 7th & 8th graders.

The school is organized in small grade-level clusters around a central courtyard. Facilities include an administrative and counseling office, library, multi-purpose room with performing arts capabilities and a full-size independent gymnasium. Site amenities include generous turf playfields, a running track and equipment areas for the individual grade levels.

Sustainable design elements were also fundamental in the projects development. Natural daylight is abundant in virtually all spaces on the campus. High efficiency mechanical systems, low-water use plumbing fixtures, and automatic lighting controls contribute to a facility that exceeds the energy requirement of California Title 24 by better than 30%. The school is also recognized by the Collaborative of High Performance Schools for its energy conscious design and sustainable features.

The design goals were to create a new model for an elementary school campus that would focus on sustainability, provide a sense of community and that promote student achievement; and to create a facility that would reflect the School District's commitment to the community and to planning for the future.

The school site is located several hundred yards west of the Feather River and on the edge of new suburban development. The Feather River, its landforms and vegetation, became the design inspiration for the hardscape and landscape design of the campus. There is a symbolic levee in the center of the campus and the selection of trees, ground covers, and paving patterns were selected specifically to relate to the river environment giving the school and the students a unique sense of place.

The sustainability components of the project were developed using the Collaborative for High Performing Schools' Best Practices Manual and from the U.S. Green Building Council LEED(R) program. The building forms and materials are derived from the local agricultural vernacular and are reinterpreted looking towards the future. The roof forms and materials become the integrated support structure for more than 300 kvA of thin film photovoltaic panels producing enough power to lower the utility costs to run the school by over 30%.

The Gymnasium, Administration Building and the Library Building were site built and maintained the campus's focus on green design with an emphasis on energy efficiency and day-lighting. All three buildings incorporate large amounts of translucent insulated window panels, which let diffused light in and lowered the energy loss typical of traditional windows. The building forms were designed based on the layout of thin film photovoltaic panels that are integrated directly into the metal roofing system without the need for additional structural supports. The PV system is designed to provide up to 100% of the peak electrical demand of the campus on a bright day and more than 30% of the campus's annual energy needs. Based on the success of the PV system the district is looking into opportunities to expand the system at other schools.

This project was designed as a model of Green Design and sustainability for public schools in California and scored 38 points in the Collaborative for High Performing Schools rating system. The buildings on campus combine community wide centralized planning, high efficiency equipment and environmental controls, translucent glazing, and rooftop photovoltaic panels and the elimination of potable water for landscape irrigation. The campus is an active laboratory of sustainable design ideas and is used in the educational curriculum of the students.

This elementary school campus is based on a "super sized" Kindergarten thru 8th grade model. Recent studies have identified decreased student performance in traditional elementary/middle/high school models. As our society becomes more fragmented and transient, students have been looking to their schools as a form of stability and continuity. By keeping kids on a single campus through out their elementary school years, they benefit from the availability and familiarity of the schools support systems and it has been shown that the K-8th grade model promotes increased parent participation in the child's education.

Riverbend Elementary School is the 2008 recipient of the Leroy F. Greene "Award of Merit" for the Coalition for Adequate School Housing Design and Planning Awards.


DIV. 7: Metal Roofing: Garland.
DIV. 8: Glass Low E: PPG; Entrances & Storefronts, Windows, Curtainwall: Kawneer; Daylighting: Kalwall.
DIV. 9: Carpet: Collins & Aikman; VCT: Armstrong.


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