Sustainable New School Opens in L.A. County

By Eric Althoff

HERMOSA BEACH, Calif.—The Hermosa Vista School, located in the Southern California beachfront community of Hermosa Beach, opened to raves this spring, with students even able to attend in-person classes at the new learning institution. Hermosa Vista School encompasses both a main two-story administration/classroom/library building as well as a second building that can serve multiple purposes as needed.

The new school campus, located at 417 25th St., sits on the site of the former North School. The old school was removed to make room for Hermosa Vista, where Hermosa’s third and fourth graders will attend classes. Erickson Hall, with offices in Escondido in San Diego County, was the project’s general contractor.

Sustainability was the name of the game for Hermosa Vista, and an effort was made by designer SVA Architects to ensure that the school was as energy-efficient as possible. SVA’s plans aimed to make the school be “zero net energy,” and accordingly, their schematics included highly efficient MEP systems and photovoltaic solar arrays on both buildings. This way, the school campus can generate its own energy rather than tapping into a Southern California energy grid.

Although the doors of Hermosa Vista didn’t open until 2021, the designs and plans had been underway for the new school since Measure S was passed by area voters in 2016. The bond appropriated $59 million to address the problem of overcrowding in the city’s antiquated school buildings.

The school district tapped SVA Architects, headquartered in nearby Santa Ana, for the job based on the designer’s previous work for such local clientele as the Redondo Beach Unified School District. SVA has worked with its several educational clients to deliver buildings that are sustainable and offer a minimally invasive environmental impact.

“Hermosa Vista School is an example of design meeting the future, highlighting remarkable achievements in facility sustainability,” Robert Simons, AIA, president of SVA Architects, said in a recent statement about the school project. “The students and teachers will enjoy a modern, enhanced learning environment, and the sustainable features will benefit the entire community, while representing shared values and vision.”

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on May 15 after the school formally opened its doors to students on April 13. According to the Daily Breeze, the Saturday-afternoon ribbon-cutting was complemented with a Hermosa Beach Education Foundation fundraiser whose aim was to get cash to local organizations.

Hermosa Vista School is the first of three school projects funded by moneys set aside by Measure S. In addition, Hermosa View School, where kindergarten through second graders are educated, will be redesigned and updated, as will Hermosa Valley School for the district’s fifth to eighth graders.

Designer SVA Architects was founded in 2003. In addition to its local headquarters in Santa Ana, the company also has satellite offices in Oakland, San Diego and Honolulu.