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Polytechnic School Strategic Master Plan

Pasadena, California
Firm Role
Street design, parking and transportation demand management planning, data collection and analysis
820 students
Place Type

The Polytechnic School is one of Southern California’s finest private schools. Located adjacent to the Caltech campus, it was designed by Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey in 1906. The school engaged a team led by Moule and Polyzoides to prepare a Strategic Master Plan. Siegman & Associates led the transportation planning effort for the project.

The resulting plan analyzes the school’s current resources and proposes patterns of future growth for the campus, based on long-term academic objectives. The design emphasizes the definition of a coherent open space and landscape framework, supported by necessary transportation and other infrastructure improvements, and implemented by the design of individual projects.

Although spare and modest, this historic campus is an early example of a progressive school type that was later popularized by California modernists in the mid-twentieth century. The buildings are fully oriented around common gardens. Classrooms are interconnected through open-air arcades, with teaching spaces opening out to private patios.

Parking and transportation were key challenges. Neighborhood opposition to change at the kindergarten through 12th grade school stemmed largely from competition for on-street parking between neighbors, teachers, and students; speeding problems on adjacent city streets; and pickup and drop-off traffic. Yet adding parking would pave over gardens or playfields. To address these challenges, the plan includes curb management measures, including protecting neighbors from spillover parking with residential permits. Improved pickup and drop-off procedures reduce congestion. A traffic calming plan eliminates speeding on nearby streets. A menu of traffic reduction strategies recommends incentives for campus affiliates to walk, bike, rideshare, and take transit.

The plan was approved by the school in 2002 and the first major project, an NCAA short course pool, is complete.

Image courtesy of Moule and Polyzoides