New Design Could Change the Face of Richmond High

The current proposed redesigns of the exterior of Richmond High were developed with community input and are subject to change with additional feedback. (Screenshot captured by Samantha Kennedy / The CC Pulse)

By Samantha Kennedy

Early designs for a modernized Richmond High School show a new building along 23rd Street that looks to enhance the school’s identity. 

The West Contra Costa Unified School District hosted an in-person and virtual community meeting Thursday to receive input on what Richmond High could look like in the future. Project designs show a new building housing classrooms and the Internationals Academy, a new art and music plaza, and a more centralized entrance. 

“The face of the school is completely changing to the community and to the street,” said Alenoush Aghajanians of the DLR Group, which is in charge of the design process. 

DLR created the designs after hearing from hundreds of Richmond High community members in interviews, meetings and surveys. Community members identified student safety, well-being,  and increased connectivity between the school and community as their priorities.

Community members were asked to provide further feedback on three design options at the meeting, with each option having much of the same layout but varying in style. DLR assured the community that designs, including colors and the style itself, are not final and their feedback will drive changes in this process.

All designs include various windows on the building along 23rd Street and designate certain spots for murals. The building in each design is shown in the modern style, which is based on community members’ preferences. 

Options one and three make the inside of the building more transparent than option two by using windows that span almost the entire side of parts of the building. These windows would be around the main entrance and along classrooms for the Internationals Academy. Ample windows would increase natural lighting in learning environments and transparency for safety purposes. 

Option two has windows but focuses on various materials used for the building’s exterior. DLR’s Jesse Miller said this option is a “little more industrial-type material” and uses glass, wood and murals on the exterior. While community members shared many of the same preferences for the style of the building and windows, there was no clear preference for what materials should be used on the exterior. 

Guadalupe Ellana was critical of the colors used in the designs. She and another community member said it made the building look “bland.” 

Ellana said she attended Kennedy High School’s community meeting on April 23 and thought Kennedy’s design for the entrance should be taken into consideration for Richmond High. Designs for Kennedy focus on a prominent entrance to point visitors in the right direction, and Ellana said Richmond’s designs are a little confusing in that way. 

Richmond’s current designs have the building for the Internationals Academy and ninth graders closer to 23rd Street, but the main entrance is pushed back to allow room for a drop-off lane. Ellana praised the new drop-off location because of how hectic the streets can get but thought the entrance should be pushed up as well. 

The project is early in the design process, according to Miller, and could last up to two years. 

Construction on the new building is expected to begin in 2027 and other modernization upgrades throughout the campus will begin the year after. The project is projected to be completed in 2030.

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