Curriculum-driven Facilities Inspire High School Students

Share Article

Paired with cutting edge technologies, curriculum-driven school facilities can increase enrollment, improve test scores, and engage students with real world career options.

K-12 Career Tech Education by LPA Inc.

The Tahoe Art and Design Academy (TADA), demonstrates the best Career Tech Education has to offer.

The school district was really the seed ... They knew about career tech education and the programs to fund it so they developed their application and we assisted, from the design side, by creating facilities completely driven by the curriculum.

California’s High Sierra Mountains are home to more than majestic peaks, world-class ski resorts, old west towns, and giant sequoias. This mountainous region features some of the finest high school education facilities in the nation, especially when it comes to Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Designed by California-based Architecture Firm, LPA Inc., the CTE facilities at South Tahoe High School include the “Green” Construction and Transportation Academy—completed in 2010, the Tahoe Arts and Design Academy (TADA)—completed in 2011, and the Sports Medicine Academy—to be completed in 2013.

Paid for by grants and other financial aid, these programs are part of a five-phase construction program, which also includes a $12 million Overcrowding Relief Grant (ORG) funded classroom building—completed in 2010, and a new Campus Commons Student Union—to be completed in 2012.

As we enter the holiday season, students perform their first full production in the TADA building, “42nd Street.” The $9.3 million facility has been called, by some, a “miracle at 6,300 feet,” and by others, a “mini Pixar Studio.” The 28,000-square-foot building features editing suites, sound proof recording studios, dozens of big-screen LCD televisions, a tiered orchestra room and a professional-grade theater. Inspiration for this career tech success story, was drawn from actual, Hollywood production studios. Leaders from the Lake Tahoe Unified School District joined faculty members and students from South Tahoe High School and the K-12 school designers at LPA, for a tour of several Hollywood production studios, including POP Sound in Santa Monica, Calif.

“The school district was really the seed,” recounts school architect Steve Newsom. “They knew about career tech education and the programs to fund it so they developed their application and we assisted, from the design side, by creating facilities completely driven by the curriculum … their thoughts, desires, and goals drove the solution.”

The architecture of the South Tahoe High School CTE facilities has been well received. The one-year-old “Green” Construction and Transportation Academy has already been awarded by California’s Coalition for Adequate School Housing (CASH)—which recognizes design solutions that creatively meet educational program needs, the American Institute of Architects, and the Concrete Masonry Association of California and Nevada.

According to Superintendent Jim Tarwater, in a recent Tahoe Daily Tribune story, the high school will be monitoring enrollment, graduation rates and average grade-point average to see if the new facilities have a noticeable impact. “We may not fully comprehend the success of these facilities until we hear from students—who were maybe considering dropping out—how these programs gave them a sense of direction, and passion for what they could do with their future,” continues Newsom.

For districts interested in CTE funding for their school facilities, Newsom recommends starting to plan now so that submissions score highly. “With each of the last three rounds—for career tech monies—applications, and the level of detail and thoughtfulness in developing those, have increased dramatically,” finishes Newsom. “It’s a competitive program, and we’re hoping to see state funds available in 2012.”

If you’d like to get inspired by taking a tour of South Tahoe High School, please visit or

About Lake Tahoe High School
South Tahoe High School is a California Distinguished Comprehensive High School located on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe. Nestled in the Lake Tahoe National Forest, South Tahoe High is an AVID National Demonstration School and is accredited by the Western Association of School and Colleges.

About LPA Inc.
Founded in 1965, LPA has more than 230 employees with offices in Irvine, Roseville, and San Diego, Calif. The firm provides services in architecture, sustainability, planning, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering, and graphics. At 78% LEED accredited, they are one of the greenest firms in the nation. With extensive experience in public and private architecture, LPA designs a diversity of facilities that span from K-12 schools, colleges and universities, to corporate and civic establishments. More than 400 major design awards attest to LPA's commitment to design excellence.


Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Rochelle Veturis Coles
LPA Inc.
(949) 701-4148
Email >
Visit website