Pacific Sky School construction update

A sky view of Pacific Sky School.
(Core Contractors)

Del Mar Union School District’s newest school Pacific Sky is over 60% completed as Erickson Hall Construction works at a rapid pace to get everything done on time for its August opening. Located in Pacific Highlands Ranch on Solterra Vista Parkway, Pacific Sky will be the district’s ninth school.

Pacific Sky has become a passion project for OBR Architecture, reflecting principal architect Garrick Oliver’s vision.

“They designed a school that brought our District Design to life,” said Chris Delehanty, Del Mar’s assistant superintendent of business services during a recent tour of the site.

OBR was fortunate to be a part of the District Design strategic planning process five years ago as the firm refreshed the district’s facilities master plan. OBR had talked a lot with the district about the important role that the environment plays on students’ learning and how kids interact with spaces. At Pacific Sky, the architects found ways to carve out unique spots for kids to be wherever they could—in nearly every nook on the campus there are fun seating spots and comfortable perches.

Pacific Sky School takes shape in Pacific Highlands Ranch.
(Karen Billing)

“A lot of what we love is in this campus,” said Anney Rosenthal-Hall, principal at OBR Architecture.

With a focus on flexibility, each of the 20 classrooms has accordion doors (Nano Walls) on both sides of the room, opening up into outdoor patios on one side and into spacious hallways on the other side, allowing students to spill out for collaboration time or small group learning. Each classroom features unique suspended light fixtures and whiteboard walls.

Each of the school’s classroom pod has a big collaboration space between them in the wide and open hallways and also a more private, closed-off conference room.

Skylights in the high ceilings and a multitude of windows will bring in lots of natural light—paired with the solar on campus, energy costs will be very low, Delehanty said.

Pacific Sky will model what Del Mar has envisioned for its innovation centers districtwide, reimagining multi-use room and library spaces.

“The multi-use room is something that is not utilized as frequently as it could be at other campuses,” said Lauren Blagg, project manager for OBR Architecture. “With this school, it is integrated.”

Inside one of the Pacific Sky classrooms.
(Karen Billing)

The school’s three specialty STEAM labs are located directly off the spacious innovation center (complete with a stage), giving some flexibility for classes to take advantage of the multi-purpose space. While the center will house the majority of the school’s library books, books will also be housed on shelves throughout the campus.

Pacific Sky’s after school building and nutrition services are set off from the main campus, with their own entrance point. The nutrition services building will be home to the school district’s first central kitchen to support its own lunch program.

Lunch at Pacific Sky promises to be a lot of fun.

“We interviewed students about what their favorite thing is about lunch and incorporated them into the design of the lunch shelter,” said Blagg.

The area includes a variety of different seating options: shady and sunny, tables and benches with landscaping breaking it all up. In a whimsical touch, the lunch area is accessed by slides as well as stairs. Per the students request, there is also a spot for dancing.

Outside on the blacktop and play fields, boulders and logs were added as natural seating options for students. There will be play structures and wall ball courts and a big grassy field with a jogging track around it.

The school’s playground is adjacent to the future Solterra Vista Park. The community park will include playgrounds, a pedestrian loop, two lit tennis courts, two lit pickleball courts and a full-size basketball court around a 1.8-acre multi-purpose field. The park is scheduled to be open to the public in late 2023.