QKA-Designed Grade School Breaks Ground in Bay Area

By Eric Althoff

SAN PABLO, Calif.—Designer Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA) has commenced its work for the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) on a complete campus replacement of Lake Elementary School, whose buildings were considered not suitable for modern educational purposes. The new campus will eventually host 500 students from kindergarten through 6th grade.

As designed by QKA, the reimagined school will offer visitors a pleasing main entrance, immediately beyond which will be the library and housing administrative services. The interior design allows for flexible spaces for 4th through 6th grades that can be adapted for larger gatherings and shared learning spaces.

At the campus center, the school will have a cafeteria, performance space, multipurpose areas, as well as dining options that can be enjoyed inside or al fresco in California sunshine. A main thoroughfare will allow students to briskly move from one area of the school to another.

It was important to the WCCUSD that the new school be as sustainable as possible, so recycled building materials were incorporated throughout. The school also features a “cool roof” as well as LED lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures and energy-efficient mechanical elements. On the exterior, the design called for synthetic turf to mitigate the need for irrigation, and enough shade over the playgrounds and exterior dining areas ensures that extra water isn’t wasted unnecessarily.

Alten Construction Inc. is working with QKA to realize the redesigned campus. John Dybczak, QKA principal and CFO, said that his firm was cognizant of recognizing that the needs of Lake Elementary’s future extended well beyond the classroom.

“Our trusted design-build partnership with Alten Construction was invaluable as we navigated the serious challenges associated with demolishing and rebuilding a school campus while prioritizing safety and uninterrupted learning throughout the process,” he said.

In a subsequent statement to School Construction News, Dybczak said that QKA and Alten worked hand-in-glove with district personnel to ensure the redesigned school’s current and future needs are met.

“From there, the design-build team collaborated with the facilities department to seek solutions for the project’s most significant challenge: demolishing and rebuilding a school while classes remain in session,” he said. “Together, we were able to develop a phased approach to construction that accommodates classroom needs and maintains student safety. The end result will be a completely redesigned campus home to flexible learning suites that allow classrooms to adapt easily to a variety of curricular needs.”

Bob Alten, president & CEO of Alten Construction Inc., said that the groundbreaking itself has shown how the project will meet its timeline. “Our team has worked hard to mitigate the cost escalation challenges that the construction industry has endured over the past several years to ensure the success of the project and save the taxpayers money,” he said.

The new school is projected to be completed in the summer of 2025.