Don Soffer Aventura High School
This iconic, 65,000-square-foot high school is the newest charter school for the City of Aventura.
Sited on a tiny, two-acre parcel located immediately adjacent to Waterways Park, the school was designed to minimize the footprint and maximize the use of the park amenities while providing internal and external safety and security for the students and staff. The school itself is four stories and provides vertical circulation through two highly efficient and well-detailed stairways. One of the stairwells has a dramatic opening for all four floors and provides spectacular views north to the Gulfstream racetrack through walls of glass. The plan is organized in a simple and easy to monitor donut shape, with classrooms and specialty areas requiring natural light oriented to the exterior and teaching support spaces oriented to the interior.
Designed to house 800 students at capacity (200 per grade), the school includes 28 classrooms, a music room, drama room, art room with kiln, Cambridge science and computer labs that are highlighted by stand-up desks and digital white boards, plus a secure Administration wing and a centralized dining hall. Also included in the high school are flex-space break-out areas that include flexible furniture design and challenge-based learning environments that encourage collaboration and impromptu teaching. Through extensive coordination with school and local police, numerous safety elements were integrated into the design, such as shot-spotter technology, bullet-proof entry vestibule, safe areas within classrooms and direct-response data connections.
A full-court gymnasium, with retractable bleacher seating for 300 is nestled into the adjacent park, replacing an outdoor basketball court. The existing recreation fields are used by the school during the day and by the community after hours. The design took advantage of some existing parking on the site to provide adequate queueing for both bus and parent drop-off, and accommodate all staff parking on site.
The schedule was extremely aggressive and was completed (design, documentation, permits and construction) in under 18 months. In addition to being a compact site, it was laced with several major constraints that required sensitive mitigation, including mangroves, radon and buried hazardous waste from a previous owner. Once the survey and Geotech reports were completed, we immediately began mitigation design and permitting to allow the contractor to complete the site preparation prior to the issuance of the building permit.
To accelerate construction, the structure was designed with concrete tilt-wall panels, which were modulated and accented with form-liners in strategic locations to mimic metal panels. The classroom windows are shaded by aluminum eyebrows on the east and west elevations to provide needed sun control for the large openings, and the front of the school is highlighted by a curtainwall tower, which not only provides intuitive wayfinding for the main entry, but is accented by horizontal banding, which is reminiscent of the Aventura City Hall.
65,000-square-foot charter high school
Cambridge science and computer labs
Concrete tilt-wall panels