Construction Progresses on Spacious New California High School

By Lisa Kopochinski

LINCOLN, Calif.—Construction continues on the new $86 million Twelve Bridges High School in Lincoln for the Western Placer Unified School District.

Last spring, a groundbreaking ceremony was hosted by WPUSD. In attendance were HMC Architects’ Brian Meyers, Michael Rath, Sam Wolfgram, Mark Zarzeka and Kris Livingston, as well as representatives from Flint Builders, the general contractor on this project, WPUSD officials, and the city of Lincoln.

With a completion date slated for fall 2021, the new high school will accommodate the growing Lincoln community with room for more than 1,200 students in the first phase and 2,000 students at full buildout.

The first phase of the project—scheduled for completion by June 2021—is approximately 135,100 square feet and will feature classrooms, an administration building, athletic stadium and fields, space for performing arts, and staff and student parking.

The future second phase of the project will include an auxiliary gymnasium, a community aquatic center, completion of athletic complex, and an additional two -story classroom building. The WPUSD is planning for a 2020 bond measure to fund a portion of the second phase.

The design of Twelve Bridges High School was needed to respond to the existing topography, explained Brian Meyers, PreK-12 practice leader at HMC Architects.

“A 15-foot elevation drop created an opportunity to physically separate the public zones atop the hill from the student zones and the core of the campus below. This physical barrier also allowed for opportunities to use the hill for intimate outdoor learning spaces. The design team utilized virtual reality (VR) with users and local first responders to study security and safety vulnerabilities.”

Meyers said the School Resource Officer (SRO) provided recommendations for sightlines and considerations for access on the multi-level site.

“We also placed a design focus on views and scale. The campus will be clearly visible from CA-65 (Highway) and Twelve Bridges Middle School to the south across the natural environmental habitat. The two-story volumes are sited on the lower level appearing as single-story volumes on approach. At the front of the campus approaching from the north, single story buildings create a noncompeting backdrop for the beautiful existing City Library constructed in 2007—which will be used daily by students.”

Construction on this project actually began in 2004. However, the bottom fell out of the economy at that time and the District was left no choice but to pull the plug on the project. The passage of a local bond measure in 2014 allowed the project to reboot.

“The site—after already receiving environmental clearances to initially construct—became repopulated with habitat conducive to the endangered ferry shrimp during the 10-year delay,” explained Meyers.

“This led to an additional year delay and expensive environmental mitigation, compromising the original budget. HMC and our construction partner, Flint Builders, needed to find ways to build the new high school more cost effectively. The administration building, two-story classroom buildings and single-story science buildings were designed modularly, allowing for repetitive components to be fabricated off-site.”

Additionally, Meyers said these buildings are being constructed onto the prior developed building pads and connected to the existing infrastructure.

“The performing arts, student union, and physical education facilities were all combined into one large efficient building, sharing circulation and limiting exterior walls. This large building straddles the existing hillside, with public functions on the upper floor facing the front (north) façade and the school functions accessible from the lower floor to the south. In spite of the year delay, the team was able to deliver the 135,000-square foot facility for $86 million.”