Mendocino, Calif., Nov. 22, 2021 – Last Friday, Mendocino Unified School District (MUSD) celebrated the start of construction on a complete campus modernization project at Mendocino High School (MHS). Designed by Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA) and built by Lathrop Construction Associates, the project puts energy conservation and sustainability at the forefront and will be carbon neutral and zero net energy (ZNE). Attendees at last week’s celebration heard remarks from the District, MHS staff and students, and the project team before the symbolic first shovel of dirt was dug.
“We all have a responsibility to help address the pressing climate crisis and when we had the opportunity to explore major updates to the school, we knew prioritizing sustainability was critical,” said MHS Principal Tobin Hahn. "The design of the main campus respects the more than 125-year-old history of Mendocino High School, while bringing the building into the modern era and beyond. The ideals that exemplify the Mendocino High School experience; collaboration, relationships, diverse academic offerings, and the surrounding natural beauty, all figured prominently in the design process. Thank you to our forward-thinking project team for their collaboration in this endeavor.”
Originally built in the 1940s, the reconstruction of MHS’s original campus building will transform the facility for modern learning. New Student Union and outdoor Student Common spaces will be accompanied by new finishes, new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, and new educational technology throughout. The project will also replace existing fossil-fuel burning mechanical equipment with all-electric systems. The new electric systems are planned to be powered by a future onsite photovoltaic array and a battery backup system, eventually rendering the campus carbon neutral and ZNE. Further reducing energy usage, daylighting will be implemented throughout all buildings.
“A graduate of the high school myself and having worked on several projects for the District throughout my career, this renovation holds particular meaning and significance for me,” said QKA Founding Principal Mark Quattrocchi, FAIA. “I applaud the District’s commitment to not only ambitious sustainability goals, but to student and staff health and wellness. Facilities improvements have been shown to increase learning outcomes, and that was certainly our intent here with the use of highly-efficient electric heating and ventilation systems and increased natural light.”
Echoing this sentiment at Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Junior Francesca Mills remarked, "Schools are meant to symbolize promise and hope for young people. I envision a future world where students arrive on electric buses, use electric Bunsen burners powered by rooftop solar panels generating 100% of the school’s required energy, and learn in comfortably heated, well-lit classrooms."
The modernization of MHS’s 21,000 square-foot original building is the first phase of an overall project that will ultimately provide facility improvements to all campus buildings. The project is funded with generous community support by the passage of Measure H in 2020.
About Mendocino Unified School District
The Mendocino Unified School District is a small K-12 district located on the rural coast of northern California, approximately three and half hours north of San Francisco. The district covers 420 square miles and serves the communities from Caspar on the north to Elk in the south and inland to Comptche. The schools in our district include two of the dozen remaining one room schoolhouses in California as well as a K-8 campus in the town of Mendocino, three small and distinctive high school programs renowned for their quality, and a K-12 independent study program. The Mendocino Unified School District has a highly dedicated teaching staff, active and involved parents, a supportive community, and best of all, a wonderful group of students!