University High School Adding New San Francisco Structure

By Eric Althoff

SAN FRANCISCO—Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects and Truebeck Construction are hard at work on the new California Street Campus for San Francisco University High School (SFUHS), which will be the school’s first ground-up construction. The new facility will allow the school itself to expand its existing four-building campus in this city where real estate is at such a premium.

The new building will replace an L-shaped World War II-era strip mall with its own parking, repurposing it for modern educational use instead. As imagined by Leddy Maytum Stacy, the building will become a public-facing “front door” for the campus, and will blend in on what is a rather heavily trafficked street thanks to public transit, foot traffic and nearby mixed-use developments. The developers are also aiming for Net-Zero Energy, which is of premium importance in California.

The California Street Campus will bring together all of the SFUHS STEM classrooms as well as faculty offices in one location. And because the school’s former gym, known as “The Devil Dome,” is not up to par with the athletic needs of the school, Truebeck has been tasked with constructing a newer facility that will offer both practice courts as well as a 650-seat competition court that can also be utilized as a multipurpose facility.

The California Street Campus also ensures that dining, administration as well as faculty services can be partitioned out fairly across all of the school’s five campuses.

The SFUHS has for over four decades been a beacon of secondary learning throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, helping to educate the next generation of leaders. This will be ever more important in Northern California, a region bedeviled with ever-increasing housing costs, a lack of labor as well as ongoing problems with equity for the unhoused. The new building is meant to strengthen the district’s ties with the community, including among teachers, families and alumni.

As an urban infill project, the new school construction will breathe new life to an underutilized site. The 48,000-square-foot building will also address the needs of campus expansion for the SFUHS, which has rapidly outgrown its Pacific Heights neighborhood.

In an email statement sent to School Construction News, Bill Leddy, consulting principal at Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects, touted the California Street Campus and its so-called front door as a “multi-dimensional study in ultra-high efficiency” that welcomes students and visitors to the school “within a tight urban site.”

“It offers a range of healthy, flexible, daylit environments that support 21st century learning and build a strong academic community,” Leddy said. “And it does all of this as a Zero Net Operational Carbon building, modeling living and learning in a hopeful, climate positive future.”

Subcontractors working with general contractor Truebeck include structural engineer Forell Elsesser, MEP and lighting engineer PAE, civil engineer Luk and Associates and dry utilities firm Urban Design Consulting Engineers.

The project is currently scheduled to finish in Spring 2025.