New San Francisco Library
S Meek in joint venture with Noll & Tam Architects provided full architectural design services for this new neighborhood branch of the San Francisco Public LIbrary. The new building features a dedicated teen space, an expanded children's area, and a community program room accessible after hours for meetings and presentations. Most importantly, it is able to house an expanded collection, and provides computer and Wi-Fi access to the public and more functional work spaces for staff.
This building attempts the same wonder as a book—a simple volume whose articulations at the fine grain define and enhance the opportunities for browsing, reading, and study. The design goal was to extract from the program a set of architectural essences: robust surfaces, active daylight, and an amplitude of space articulated through both repetition and variation. At the library entrance, the public is welcomed by an airy art-filled Periodical Room. The porch-like quality of this entry continues along the full southern edge of the building, with reading chairs in each of the bay windows.
PORTOLA BRANCH LIBRARY
San Francisco, CA
Modernization and New Construction
This project, done in collaboration as Joint Venture Architect with Noll & Tam Architects, was for a small community school with a strong arts curriculum. Our scope included modernization of the site’s existing buildings as well as locating the new multi-purpose building. Both 2-story and 1-story schemes were considered.
Prior to the project, the largest room in the school was 850 sq. ft. The new 5000 sq ft building houses a cafeteria, a small multi-purpose room, a library, and several resource offices. The design places kindergarten classrooms grounded at playground level, while stairs leading along a series of platforms to the upper floors enables older students to rise up and take flight. The community building is where all come together in the rehearsal for life.
GEORGE PEABODY ELEMENTARY
San Francisco, CA
New Cafeteria and Classroom Building
This new school cafeteria and classroom building was built to serve two school communities on an existing urban middle school campus. CCPA classrooms are above, and both Roots and CCPA share the cafeteria below. With the aim of creating connections and fostering community, the building was designed with full height glazing in the cafeteria, protective roof and building overhangs, and a generous circulation path through and around the building.
Protective overhangs that shelter the building are a metaphor for the school’s relationship to the middle school students.
The east end of the cafeteria has a protected corner which can be used by community groups as a break-out space.
HAVENSCOURT MIDDLE SCHOOL
Modernization for the Arts
This project deconstructed an under-used industrial shop building at the edge of the campus to become the new home for an Arts School. The renovation celebrates the quality of the art - the spirit of anticipation, the unfinished, and an evolving creative and productive energy. The design vocabulary emphasizes the building as backdrop, students and their work as foreground. The resulting school is more fragments of walls than rooms; more patches of sunlight than institutionalized enclosures; more ambiguities of interiority than the explicitness of inside and out.
Two layers of design elements respond to the location adjacent to a creek - a wood horizon and a low wall. Both elements weave and wend their way along the building edge. The low wall transforms itself to be everything from a bench, to a display ledge, to an indoor planter. Our design results in spaces which are unified yet highly differentiated, such that the students feel a part of the School.
EAST OAKLAND SCHOOL
OF THE ARTS, Oakland, CA
Reach Back and Get It
The scope of renovation and modernization of this 1950’s concrete, 2-story school building included systems upgrades, accessibility upgrades, energy improvements, and finishes replacement. Understanding the community covenant as one of the site’s core values influenced the design. We placed an emphasis on the hallways as places for meeting as well as circulation. Benches added to the halls and ample bulletin board space communicate the hall’s importance and provide space for scholars sharing ideas and work.
Starting with the symbolic meaning of the school’s name, Sankofa, “to reach back and get it,” we developed a hallway scheme where part of the original concrete structure was exposed above the ceiling, revealing the history and material of the building. On the south side of the hall, newly glazed transom windows that had been blocked were opened, bringing a sense of the natural world beyond to the building core.
To accommodate approximately 850 lunches in one lunch period of 40 minutes, S Meek was asked to retrofit the cafeteria servery and provide new outdoor eating and seating areas. Scattering the available sheltered lunch area options around the site allows for a measure of choice that the young adults are ready for.
The idea of the alumni wall grew out an investigation of the school site and its storied history and the Principal's request to strengthen the school identity. We developed a concept intended to inspire student curiosity in the Notable OHS Alum. The imprint of famous names such as Julia Morgan, Jack London, and David Carradine, and the names of true humanitarians and civil servants like Nellie Wong and Edwin Meese, infuses the hardscape with the feeling of OHS legacy, past and future.
OAKLAND HIGH SCHOOL
New Supportive Housing
Susannah Meek provided planning and community outreach, schematic design, and construction document services for this new supportive SRO housing development in San Francisco. Named for Bishop William E. Swing, who initiated Episcopal Community Services' programs for the homeless 30 years ago, this 88,000 square foot development houses 134 formerly homeless men and women. Each unit is accessible or adaptable for persons with disabilities.
Early Design Phases had to work through potential historic district issues and feedback from the community. Throughout the design process we enacted value engineering, working with Cahill Contractors, and we implemented green building best practices, working towards LEED Silver certification. We prioritized full length glazing at the very small units and a full length courtyard at the entry to create a protected haven.
BISHOP SWING COMMUNITY HOUSE
San Francisco, CA
Daniel Webster Elementary Modernization
San Francisco USD
In collaboration as Joint Venture Architect with Noll & Tam Architects, S Meek Architecture provided designs for the modernization and elevator addition to Daniel Webster Elementary. To connect multiple buildings at multiple levels, the elevator tower was combined with a lobby on the ground floor and an expanded library at the second floor.
The school's existing classroom building had a modular 1970’s educational layout - where every classroom was entered from exterior stairs and the only classrooms with access to the restrooms are the central classrooms. A new dedicated internal hallway will improve wayfinding and orientation as well as safety. Expanding the available space for the warming kitchen at the back of the Aauditorium will enable the equipment to fit within the kitchen, rather than scattered at the edges of the public space, and thus return some dignity to the school’s major public gathering space.
Harvey Milk Memorial Plaza
San Francisco Public Prize International Design Competition Honorable Mention
The rainbow flag, a symbol of slain San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk’s crusade for gay rights, was important to the program authors; Stoner Meek’s design proposal blankets the intersection with a grand flag of flowers that could be seen from an airplane flying over San Francisco on Harvey Milk’s birthday. A memorial also reminds us of the ebb and flow of living things, which we addressed in the very “planting” of the pavement as part of a five-day celebration each year. Afterwards, the flats would be given away to be planted in gardens all over the city in return for a donation toward next year’s installation, so the cycle could begin anew.
Pell Mall - Vallejo Plaza Mall, Vallejo, California
Finalist in Dead Malls Competition sponsored by LA Forum, 2003
SMA's proposal adopts the 19th century European model of the Pell Mell sporting green as inspiration for an ecological transformation of Vallejo Plaza's Dead Mall. The project includes the flooding of parking lots and demolition of two structures to create a marshland. Three new mall types are proposed to financially support the Pell Mall - the Car Mall, the Wind Malll, and the Mud Mall. Electric car dealerships lease island space in the marsh. The Car Mall can be seen from the observation deck on the roof of one of the stores along Sonoma Boulevard. The Wind Mall features family games and sprinklers with power generating windmills that generate power for the project as well as the city. At the northern end of the Pell Meadow, birds and people mingle at the edge of White Slough at the Muddy Mall. On the projection screen, an image of the plan of Old Vallejo.
East River Escapes
Distinguished Entry Finalists, 1998 Prize in Public Architecture, New York, NY
Sponsored by the non-profit Van Alen Institute in New York, this international design competition for New York’s “other” river was inspired by the fact that many consider the East River to be less attractive, less interesting, and less of a development opportunity than the Hudson River. This proposal links the existing transportation network of subway stations along the river to a series of “natural events,” both existing and proposed, above ground. Intended as sites for a short vacation from the powerful pace of the commercial city, each of these seventeen “escapes” reveals a particular mood, idiosyncrasy, or recreational possibility where river and city meet.
Creative Montessori Learning Center
As part of an investigation on whether the Creative Montessori Learning Center should move their daycare, SMA developed build-out concepts to improve the existing buildings, which had been built to minimum specs. A wrap-around porch was developed into a significant in-between zone, separating the indoor learning from outdoor learning. The porch provides a shaded play and rest space for the children on hot summer days. Classrooms can be extended to the outdoors in all weather conditions, deepening the child's awareness of the surrounding environment. The narrower south porch and the deeper east porch provide different light quality at different times of the day. In addtition, the east porch contains picnic tables, allowing children to enjoy meals outside in good weather.
“The children are inspired with a feeling for nature, which is maintained by the marvels of creation.” - M. Montessori