Canyon View High School

  • Client

    • Agua Fria Union High School District #216
  • Project Type

Design Achievement - Agua Fria Union High School District’s team defined a vision that blurs the lines between ages and abilities to foster authentic learning and curricular exploration by expanding the definition of what a “place based” high school can be. DLR Group’s design emphasizes spatial flexibility and sustainability as primary means of fulfilling the district’s goals. The new facility offers the opportunity to strengthen relationships, foster multiple pedagogies for individualized learning opportunities, and nurtures a culture that is student-focused and faculty-guided. Classes have the flexibility to be held in spaces designed to suit the learning of the moment, and adjust when necessary. The facility became home to a first of its kind Teaching and Learning Accelerator, an open-source incubator for the art of teaching and learning. Faculty from around the district and beyond come to develop and practice modern pedagogies; visiting speakers are given opportunities to share their knowledge; and students and community can come to partner and explore not just teacher-to-student frameworks, but also student-to-student as well as student-to-teacher norms.
Scope Summary - The project comprised a new 231,000-SF high school. Sustainable design includes adoption of a new approach called Viewing Architecture through the Lens of User Experience for Sustainability. VALUES targets a metrics-based approach to evaluating the user experience of space and sustainable design strategies. Findings from these metrics will enable data-based design decision-making. DLR Group provided planning, architecture, engineering and interiors services.

Creatively Advancing Teaching and Learning
Agua Fria School Union High School District is elevating the learning experience with the new Canyon View High School. DLR Group’s design is comprised of forward-thinking spaces and places that empower teachers to advance their professional skills, and students to develop critical competencies through deep learning. By gaining real-world experience, students at Canyon View High School learn skills that are in demand, provide businesses with a career-ready workforce.

“The new facility enables innovation and measurable advancements in teaching and learning. These spaces allow teachers to advance their professional skills, and students to examine coursework more deeply to develop collaborative opportunity with peers globally.”
– Dr. Dennis Runyan, superintendent, Agua Fria Union High School District 

Catalyst for Change and Innovation
The campus is home to a first-of-its-kind teaching and learning Accelerator, an open-source incubator for the art of teaching and learning. Faculty from around the district and beyond use the facility to develop and practice modern pedagogies, visiting speakers share knowledge, and students and community come together to partner and explore. It serves as the nerve center for district-wide professional development with enhanced staff training facilities and high-tech environments.

The primary space within the Accelerator is the theater, with one-half traditional fixed seating in the lower bowl and a flat-floor retractable seating system at the back. The secondary space, nicknamed the white box, is designed to work independently, or in tandem with, the auditorium. Its name alludes to its dual theatrical and professional collaboration purposes. Directly adjacent to the auditorium is the entrance lobby for the space, which also extends an exhibition space, and connects other key activity areas including the learning stair, broadcasting studio, and a maker space. Connected by a glass airplane hangar door, these two flexible settings support purposeful areas for more than 137 activities identified as district priorities, including district-wide professional development, college fairs, theatrical productions, and student competitions and exhibits.

Marketplace for Learning
The campus consists of a series of buildings that form an outdoor marketplace, dubbed the Agora, that gives students a place to gather and socialize. The central node of the Agora is the Accelerator. The Agora also includes outdoor project rooms, a learning stair, student dining, and an athletic training corridor to take advantage of the mild southwestern climate. The Agora spans the entire length of the campus and is designed for passively conditioning through green walls covered with plants. A 225 KW solar system covering the Agora provides shade to reduce solar radiation and assist in energy efficiency, contributing up to 20 percent of energy needs for the campus. The adaptive comfort standard goal adopted by the team is successfully accomplished as the temperature in the Agora never exceeds 85 degrees operating temperature, even during extreme summer months.

Learning Suites
The north edge of the Agora is formed by four learning suites, which are defined as a series of connected settings that can flexibly merge with one another in support of a shifting pedagogy. A blend of six primary learning settings are positioned around the perimeter of each suite with two labs and connections between. Classroom ownership is transferred to the collective school, giving students greater freedom to explore curriculum, wherever that may physically take them on campus. 

Each suite also provides a variety of flexible spaces that can change throughout the day depending on the specific small, medium, or large group activity scheduled, fostering an environment that is conducive to relevant learning. This flexible environment supports high-energy, spontaneous collaboration between students and educators. 

DLR Group approached this project with the fresh perspective that sustainability is equally as important to the physical building as it is to the students and educators, and applied our VALUES concept to the process. VALUES, which stands for Viewing Architecture through the Lens of User Experience for Sustainability, targets a metrics-based approach to evaluate the user experience of space and sustainable design strategies.

After conducting extensive field research and interviews with the district, student body, and the larger community, DLR Group developed a design that enhances learning through a healthy, sustainable, performance-driven environment that includes the following: natural day-lighting, views to the surrounding community, shade and protection from natural elements, comfortable furniture, and a flexible, safe, and sustainable space with a light footprint on the environment.

Additionally, the learning environment exhibits the measurable physical and environmental qualities necessary to support and enable teaching and learning through proper configuration, adjacencies, indoor air quality, ventilation, lighting, and acoustics. Cohesive framing and lateral systems allow the combination of steel and masonry structures to accommodate energy features, and enable flexible learning programs within the facility. The collaboration of sustainability, architecture, and engineering brings VALUES into reality.

Advanced Sustainable Design
DLR Group is on the cusp of new discoveries related to sustainability with our design for Canyon View High School. We are studying the viability of a new approach to thermal storage for heating and cooling buildings by using a Bio-PCM ENRG blanket in one building on campus. Our research aims to pin down exactly interrelationships of outdoor temperature, phase-change charge-recharge cycle, amount, type and location of Bio-PCM, occupancy variations, and thermal comfort. We began measuring thermal comfort in March 2018 and are measuring energy consumption throughout the 2018-19 school year. Our desired building outcomes are twofold: First, for Canyon View High School to operate 78 percent more efficiently than a traditional high school per EnergyStar benchmark in the same climate; and second, for a more comfortable overall user experience for occupants.

Awards & Recognition

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  • Architecture-Research Award

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Arizona
  • Client Award

    American Institute of Architects (AIA) Arizona
  • 2018 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award

    Structural Engineers Association of Arizona
  • 2018 Excellence in Structural Engineering Award, New Buildings Over $10 Million

    Structural Engineers Association of Arizona
  • 2019 James D. MacConnell Award

    Association for Learning Environments
  • 2020 Award of Merit

    AIA Committee on Architecture for Education

Canyon View High School

Agua Fria Union High School District #216