Portola Campus Wins Regional and National Award


Photo Courtesy of Brian Hawkins

A bird’s eye view of the Portola High campus provided by a drone shot. Portola High´s militaristic layout was a key component of the school’s award win.

Junhee Ryu and Simrat Singh

Portola High was nominated for and subsequently received the regional award for “K-12 Education Best Project” on Aug. 2017 and national award on Jan. after Engineering News Record evaluated the school’s designs and measured its use from the lens of both students and staff.

According to Reimagine Education, the K-12 Education Best Project award is given to a project that takes a new and innovative approach to education in order to give students a higher potential to succeed than procedures currently in place.

“I think it’s really exciting to know that some of the designs that we were able to give opinion on were included in the design, and it’s super exciting to see that some of those ideas were recognized in this way,” principal John Pehrson said.

Pehrson and other teachers worked alongside Kelvin Okino, Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Construction, as well as the HMC architectural firm to work towards designing the school.

“My role involved with Portola High school was to ensure that the construction was complete on time for the opening of August 2016… and also to keep the project on budget,” Okino said.

The construction for the school had to be executed very quickly in order to meet IUSD district needs to provide a campus by August 2016. Instead of the expected 27 to 30 months, the construction of the school was completed in only 19 months, according to Engineering News Record California (ENR), the organization responsible for awarding Portola High on the regional level.

“On the architecture side, what they [ENR] are looking for is just a unique way of designing the project… and also, they look for the structural and the mechanical components,” HMC K-12 Managing Principal Angel Hosband said.

The plan for the school represents a user-friendly space as Pehrson and other staff members contributed ideas to allow for more unique building designs that would benefit the students’ learning capabilities. Some unique facets of Portola High include the collaboration rooms, which is a new concept that allows for a better spread of ideas, the military-inspired layouts, as well as the huge theater which is serving as the inspiration for future theaters in Woodbridge High and other Irvine high schools.

“Some of our buildings look like [airplane] hangers,” Pehrson said. “If you look at some of our walkways, especially our timeline straight down, we have it lit with lights and at night, it resembles a runway. So there is a lot of little tiny details in there that if you weren’t really paying attention, you wouldn’t understand.”