Casa Grande Union High School District engaged CSHQA to design their community’s second comprehensive high school campus. The fast growing community passed a bond to supplement the basic funding provided by the Arizona School Facilities Board to allow them to realize a high school that everyone could be proud of, one that would compare favorably in every way with the original high school that many students would now be asked to leave for a new home. From the outset, it was clear that Vista Grande High School needed to be a jewel in the community.
To that end, it was determined that in addition to all the things that make a great modern high school, the school needed a “Casa Grande” visual design presence. A modern desert southwest colonial theme was adopted, complete with the central town plaza that is a focal and gathering place while providing a safe, observable, and securable environment.
Entry to the campus and plaza area is provided through grand arches (“manly” arches as they became labeled by District staff) identifying and signifying the entry into an important community space while providing controlled observable access at the beginning and end of the day. (Entry during the school day is only through the main lobby front door for security.) The plaza area is designed to allow controlled after-hours access to ramada dining areas for community focused functions such as athletics and performing arts events while maintaining security for the rest of the campus interior.
Vista Grande high school, totaling 259,000 sf and an impressive 60-acre site, is planned around the plaza and complimented by two basketball courts, eight tennis courts, a varsity/junior varsity baseball and softball quadraplex, and a football/track stadium.
The $60 million project includes a two story Academic Building, a Performing Arts Center with a 450 seat auditorium, band and choral classrooms, an Athletics Building with main gym seating for 1200 and auxiliary gym seating for 300 with supporting wrestling, dance and locker rooms. The campus also includes a Careers & Technology Building, with rooms for Business, DECA, Agricultural Science, Medical Sciences, Culinary Arts, Child Development, Computer Science, Fine Arts, and Media Arts.
Vista Grande HS enjoys joint-use of a City of Casa Grande Branch Library, designed to be part of the Academic Building, while maintaining the required security of a modern high school and allowing both school and taxpayer communities access to the resources of the common use space. Windows and daylighting controls are provided in over 90% of teaching and common spaces, providing an open and energy efficient facility.