June 10 — Ojai Valley School held a ceremonial groundbreaking on June 8 and is moving quickly to start construction on three new buildings at the high school campus.
The groundbreaking, attended by alumni, faculty, current and past parents, comes 18 months after the Thomas Fire tore through school’s Upper Campus, destroying the girls’ dormitory and science and technology center. Other areas of the high school campus were damaged, as well.
In the days after the fire, the school community rallied to reopen the campus for the second semester in January 2018, including opening temporary dorms and classrooms. In the months that followed, the OVS Board of Trustees launched a new capital campaign to rebuild and improve the Upper Campus. The school hired Los Angeles-based architect Fred Fisher & Partners to design a new academic and residential center that will include a new dormitory, science and technology center, as well as a two-story student commons with a new library, meeting rooms, dining hall, and kitchen.
“The buildings will be more attractive, more environmentally sustainable, and more fire resistant than anything we had before,” said OVS President/CEO Michael Hall-Mounsey at the groundbreaking. “We will give our high school students modern facilities that encourage collaboration, problem solving, creativity and innovation.”
Four years ago, Fisher’s team produced the Upper Campus Master Plan, which outlined a 20-year plan for future development at the high school. The plan identified a student commons as the project of highest priority, followed by the construction of a gymnasium, new dorms, and future classrooms. The Thomas Fire shifted those priorities with the urgent need to rebuild the girls’ dorm and the science and technology center.
Within weeks of the fire, Fisher’s team began collaborating with OVS teachers, students, parents, and alumni to produce plans for an ensemble of buildings using a mid-century design in keeping with the architectural history of the Upper Campus, most of which was built in the 1960s.
Using glass and stucco exteriors, wood accents, and ample landscaping, the design celebrates views of the Ojai Valley and blurs the lines between inside and outside.
The school has received initial approvals to rebuild and plans to begin construction later this summer. Project completion is estimated for August 2020.
Click here to see more photos of the Groundbreaking during Alumni Weekend 2019.