LePort Schools – San Francisco
Design Firm: Ware Malcomb
Amid the hustle and bustle of downtown San Francisco sat a dilapidated, abandoned building in extreme disrepair at 50 Fell Street. It was a former homeless encampment and was under the jurisdiction of the Historic Preservation Commission. Despite various challenges, LePort Schools was steadfast in their vision of bringing a new Montessori school for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers to this location.
The building was required to undergo a change in occupancy from ‘B’ to the more restrictive ‘E.’ In order to accommodate existing code requirements, future improvements consisted of ADA accessibility, seismic upgrades, fire/life safety, indoor air quality measurements, and other construction requirements. The new building spaces include an indoor play area, outdoor playground, infant rooms, toddler rooms, preschool/kindergarten classrooms, a gardening room, staff lounge, meeting room, and break room.
Due to the historical significance of the building, a Preservation Architect and specialized Artisans incorporated pre-existing finishes into the final design. Through collaboration they were able to replicate pre-existing ironwork, woodwork, windows, and doors that needed to be replaced or repaired.
The main entry contains a feature stair that in its previous state would not have passed code. The Project Team worked to preserve as much as of its natural beauty as possible with much of the original woodwork kept in place and repairs made to the areas in disrepair. The iron railing was also restored and repaired to its former glory.
The indoor play area includes natural wood finishes and miniature furniture appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. Sitting areas allow for children and teachers to sit and read books, while a hamster cage lays nearby for children to learn how to care for these small creatures. A keyboard stands nearby for students to sing along to their favorite nursery rhymes. Steel beams and exposed original brickwork line
the walls to maintain the building’s structural integrity.
Surrounded by wooden gardening planter boxes, the garden room allows children to learn about a variety of plants and how to nurture and grow fruits and vegetables.
A limited outdoor area necessitated a unique indoor play area within the basement. What makes this space unique is that outdoor elements are brought inside with an indoor racetrack, climbing wall, basketball hoops, picnic benches, and jungle gym. Children regularly run and exercise on the racetrack path, shoot hoops, and climb the climbing walls which encourage them to be active and aids in their physical development.
The outdoor play area showcases the natural landscape and is an extension of the indoor play area. Children run around on natural turf, climb climbing walls and ride tricycles along the riding path. Where a
historic fountain with colorful tile lining the outside once sat is now a children’s sandbox. The outdoor area also displays the intricate ironwork outlining the preserved glass doors and windows.
Once a rundown building, LePort Schools is now a gleaming beacon of charm and style in the heart of downtown San Francisco. The School boasts full classes and a wait list of children excited and eager to be part of this beautiful and appealing learning environment.VOTE HERE