Paul Bunton's BCA Architects Partners with Community to Design a School that Optimizes Learning and Student Safety

Top Quote According to Bunton, the design of the new high school, from start to finish, responded to the Board of Trustees objectives of "providing students with a quality learning environment the students will respond to with pride, commitment, and respect. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) July 14, 2012 - Along with focusing on education in a 21st century learning environment, safety was of utmost concern to President Paul Bunton's BCA Architects, the community-based Steering Committee and the Merced Union High School District Administration that collaborated together to design the new El Capitan High School in Merced, CA. The new 2,000-student school just reached the 50% complete milestone and is on track to open for classes in fall 2013.

    "This is truly a school designed by the community," said Paul Bunton, AIA, president of BCA Architects. "This collaboration is evident in the design of several buildings on campus such as the gymnasiums, the performing arts center, cafeteria and the library that each are sited to allow after hours access by the public while maintaining security in the quadrangle."

    According to Bunton, the design of the new high school, from start to finish, responded to the Board of Trustees objectives of "providing students with a quality learning environment the students will respond to with pride, commitment, and respect." "It is an incredible environment that will both motivate and challenge the students that enter it to excel in life. The desire to convey an attitude of Student Achievement in a high quality, safe, educational environment was paramount." Said Bunton.

    Michael Belluomini, the District's Director of Facilities stated "Having worked on the planning of two high schools in the district prior to BCA's involvement, I was struck by BCA's attention to obtaining stakeholder input regarding the design of the school. The final design of the school is tailored to the needs of teachers, students, administrators and staff."

    During the course of the design, the Merced Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team reviewed BCA's design and offered valuable information that would help the Police Department evaluate "lock down" procedures and intruder scenarios at the school. These collaborative efforts even inspired a change in the design from interior corridors to exterior corridors so school administrators would be able to aid the Merced SWAT team should an unfortunate Columbine-type of event occur in Merced.

    "BCA's clear awareness of the importance of student safety in schools led them to include the Merced Police Department early in the design of the new Bellevue Road Area High School," said Chief of Police Norm Andrade of the Merced Police Department. "This holistic vision of their public school design has led to an incredibly integrated and safe solution."

    El Capitan High School was designed primarily as a two-story campus with interconnected buildings that wrap around a large central landscaped quadrangle and provide exceptional visual supervision. The sweeping curve of the main educational building is reflective of Fehrens Creek that runs directly behind the new high school.

    The project has been designed as a Collaborative for High Performance Schools facility and is being built with durable products and materials such as masonry, steel, and energy efficient mechanical equipment. The end design always kept the community's goals in mind: Student Achievement, Safety, Family and Community Partnerships:

    "BCA Architects successfully and skillfully led the complex design process for the new (El Capitan) High School in Merced. As a member of the Steering Committee and a member of the local Community, I was impressed with the design of the new high school, and BCA's responsiveness to the Committee," said Bill Cahill, assistant city manager, City of Merced. "BCA's design solution for this new High School integrated the community's perspective on diverse issues, while responding to a very difficult site."

    The campus was designed for extensive flexibility throughout the years and will be capable of growing to a 2,600-student capacity through the use of portable classrooms to accommodate the growing community until the next new high school is designed and constructed. Fifty-percent of the funds to construct the new high schools are mandated to stay in Merced County to help stimulate the local economy.

    BCA Architects partners with clients in a mission to achieve excellence in design. Since 1989, BCA strives to strengthen communities through projects built whether it's to design, to help define partnerships, to locate financing, to save energy or to present alternate delivery methods. BCA goes above and beyond the task at hand to ensure their clients succeed. For more information, visit:

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