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Expansive Logan Heights School Campus Nearing Completion

ARCHITECTURE: $180M Project 7 Years in Making

The award-winning Logan Memorial Educational Campus, a $180 million project in Logan Heights, is nearing completion after more than seven years in the making.

Designed by DLR Group, the project will include transitional kindergarten and kindergarten through high school classes with a total of up to 2,060 students and a child development center, rebuilding a former K-8 campus.

Buddy Gessel
Principal
DLR Group

“It’s everything that a TK through 12th grade campus would have,” said Buddy Gessel, a principal of DLR Group, from classrooms and a performance center to an athletic field and track and basketball and volleyball courts.

There’s also space for community gatherings.

The six-building campus high school, designed to accommodate 1,000 students, is the first high school ever built in Logan Heights, according to DLR.

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The performing arts center includes an auditorium, a drama room, a dance studio and support services.

The campus child development center will have programs for infants to two-year-olds.

Simple Forms

Bordered by Ocean View Boulevard, 28th Street, and Logan Avenue on a 20-acre site, the campus is meant to be a walkable neighborhood learning center, engaging parents and inspiring students with a learning environment designed to support hands-on learning, teamwork, critical thinking and problem solving.

The design of the campus relied heavily on comments from the community and was developed through seven public meetings over a three-month period in 2015, Gessel said.

“We went into the meetings without anything decided and we really listened to what the community desired. We did not go in with a design or a solution of any kind. It was truly and open and transparent planning process,” Gessel said. “It really brought the community together. They really got their fingerprints all over the design and had a lot of input.”

According to DLR, the design was influenced by Mexican modernism in order to produce architecture that fits the neighborhood and builds on the cultural history of the area.

“It kind of pulled from Mexican modernism where you have real clean, simple forms,” Gessel said.

Eight large art panels along some of the exterior walls in an abstract way illustrate “the core concepts of the schools, from community to compassion to growth, leadership, collaboration, inspiration, and innovation,” Gessel said. “It’s basically expressing what’s going on inside the school to the community in an abstract way.”

“The art panels became a focus of the architecture,” Gessel said.

Creating a Brand

Opening the buildings to the outdoors and allowing natural lighting into classrooms was a key element to the design.

“All of the core learning spaces have operable windows. Each classroom has an exterior wall, half of which is windows,” Gessel said. “Within the classroom area, there are collaboration areas where the students can come outside of the classroom.”

Roll up doors also were included in some places leading to outdoor learning spaces.

The campus was singled out by the San Diego Architectural Foundation earlier this year for two of its orchid awards, one for the overall design of the campus and one for its signage.

Orchid award judges were especially impressed by the monument signs at the campus entrances, calling them “essentially urban art” that “also serves as way-finding.”

Gessel said the campus has “a full graphics and signage package from custom perforated metal paneling at the gates to six-foot tall monument signs coming into the campus.”

“We’re really looking to create a memorable brand and identity for the campus,” Gessel said.

Murals throughout the campus were custom designed by East Village-based Visual Asylum.

As with any school campus today, security was a big concern in designing Logan Memorial Campus, but steel picket fencing was used at each campus entrance instead of chain-link fences.

“It just gives a nice inviting feel to coming into the campus as a student or a visitors,” Gessel said.

The project aims to net zero pollution with more than 55,000 square feet of solar panels that could potentially generate more electricity than the campus uses, according to DLR Group.

“We won’t know if it’s net zero until they start using it all,” Gessel said.

DLR Group

Founded: 1966
San Diego Office: Downtown San Diego
CEO and Managing Principal: Steven McKay
Business: Design and architecture
Employees: 1,400
Website: www.dlrgroup.com
Contact: 619-795-2450
Social impact:  DLR Group employee-owners in 2021 spent more than 9,000 hours volunteering and giving back to their local communities, and donated more than $1.1 million to community and professional organizations.
Notable:  During the past seven years, the employee-owned firm has grown revenues more than 200% from $130 million to $330 million, increased staff value of DLR Group stock for employee-owner-shareholders by 195%.

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