St. Francis in the Foothills

St. Francis in the Foothills


Tucson, Arizona

The design for this site sensitive educational facility melds the unique characteristics of the desert with the requirements of the client for function, space and economy. The St. Francis in the Foothills Educational Facility is made up of four building modules, consisting of ten classrooms with attached play yards, a nursery, lounge, resource center, and outside gathering spaces. These modules step down the fragile desert site and are oriented away from the sun towards the view of the Santa Catalina Mountains.  Along a path of existing Mesquite, Palo Verde and Acacia trees that were carefully preserved during construction, a fountain designed to enclose an existing pump house greets members and visitors with water – a symbol of life in the desert.

Linking the modules, primary circulation is moved to the exterior and protected by large roof overhangs, eliminating the need for excessive interior air-conditioned space and providing shade for play areas and outdoor gathering spaces. Bright colors used on various building elements such as the skyhole covers and exterior fascias stimulate the eye while hanging sculptures symbolic of rainfall in the outdoor play space offer interesting visual and textural elements at an age appropriate scale.

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