School Leadership Center Designed for Energy Efficiency

By Lisa Kopochinski

LOS OLIVOS, Calif.—Construction remains underway on a new multipurpose Leadership Center at Dunn School in Los Olivos, Calif., with the facility slated to open this December.

Earlier this year, Allen Construction—which has offices in California’s Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, and Los Angeles—began work on the new 6,121-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. The architect on this project is Fernau & Hartman Architects, Inc., which has locations in Berkeley, Calif., and Clyde Park, Mont.

Once completed, the Cindy Bronfman Leadership Center will be a multi-purpose facility that serves as the hub of whole-student education and leadership at Dunn School.

At present, the project is approximately 40 percent complete. Features of the new center will include the following:

  • Flexible spaces for modern teaching and learning
  • An Innovation Lab for student collaboration
  • The Earwig Café, a student-run snack bar that teaches business and entrepreneurship
  • New College Counseling Center
  • Large Alumni Hall for all-school meetings and presentations
  • Student loft for quiet study and retreat
  • Outdoor balcony with a view of the Santa Ynez Mountains
  • Generous shaded spaces outdoors for reflection and relaxation

The building is designed based on a “first-principles” approach by taking full advantage of natural phenomena to achieve energy efficiency. It will have three large wind chimneys to capture and funnel hot air out the top of the building. The floors will be exposed concrete, which will help cool the building naturally during warmer months, and large bay doors can be opened to allow the Valley breezes to cool the building even further.

“We are excited to be part of this great project for Dunn School,” said Eric Johnson, vice president of construction for Allen Construction. “The building’s design falls in line with our philosophy of green building and sustainability.”

The state-of-the-art center will feature flexible spaces for modern teaching and learning styles, an Innovation Lab to provide student collaboration opportunities, and a student loft offering a space for quiet study and retreat.

It will also house a new College Counseling Center to help students with their decisions on higher education and a large Alumni Hall capable of holding the student body for meetings and presentations.

An innovative feature of the center is the Earwig Café, a student-run snack bar that takes its name from the school mascot. The café will teach students business principles and entrepreneurship in a hands-on atmosphere.

Other amenities will include an outdoor balcony with a view of the Santa Ynez Mountains and shaded spaces surrounding the building for reflection and relaxation.

Johnson said the biggest construction challenge to date was dealing with delays associated with inclement weather.

“The first half of the year brought more rain days than we have had in several years. We had to find ways to protect the site as best we could to allow it to dry out as quick as possible once the rain stopped.”