Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, founded in Palo Alto in the early 1990’s, was forced to find a new home in the early 2000’s. Thanks to the dot-com collapse, the school found a low-rise office campus consisting of several partially completed buildings that were abandoned prior to their occupancy. In 2003 and 2004, two of the existing, architecturally unremarkable buildings were renovated to accommodate grades K-8. In 2015, the school was finally able to embark on the construction of the Center for Arts and Athletics to expand their program offerings and accomplish their master plan.
Anchoring the east edge of the school’s site, the design of the new gym/theater building complements the existing buildings, but utilizes a dynamic, asymmetric roof form to set it apart. A transparent, glazed lobby fully opens to the outdoors, creating an expansive gathering space for events. The lobby links to a long gallery, which acts as an organizing axis that ties the facility visually to a progression of interconnected exterior and interior campus spaces. All of the program spaces have a strong connection to the outdoors: the gym/theater has direct access to the playfield and has a large perimeter clerestory; the north wall of the art classroom and south wall of the music classroom fully open to the outdoors by means of a retractable glazed wall. The religious studies classroom is a more introspective space and features a laser cut cypress wood window screen that creates a dramatic backdrop for the room’s detailed marquetry.