Art Jury critical of Rowe school design

Members of the Rancho Santa Fe Art Jury expressed concerns about the design for the new R. Roger Rowe School during last Thursday’s Association board meeting, saying it not fit the character of the Ranch.

“This building is going to be the biggest development that the village has ever seen,” Art Jury secretary Michael Hammes told the Association. “Is it going to fit in? Unfortunately, it isn’t going to look right, guys.”

The Art Jury recently made suggestions to the Rancho Santa Fe School District on how they can improve the look of the school, including finishing and aesthetic details.

Superintendent Lindy Delaney said the district would consider the Art Jury’s recommendations when they get their guaranteed maximum price on the project, which is expected to come on June 3. Estimates range from $34.5 million to $37 million.

Delaney said she isn’t sure they will be able to comply with the Art Jury’s recommendations and stay within budget without having to lose something they want for the school.

For example, she said the Art Jury’s preferred stucco finish would cost about $640,000. To get the finish, they might have to give up a security alarm system.

“If we couldn’t afford it, could the community finance it?” Delaney asked.

“Yes, the community must afford to make this thing look right,” Hammes said.

Art Jury President Paul Slater agreed that the finish of the building should not be pushed aside as the community will have to look at the exterior every day.

“Let’s not fall down at the last hurdle because it’s a little extra money,” Slater said.

Slater said the Art Jury’s role is to get the best possible building for the community and he said the drawings he’s seen “aren’t going to get us there.”

Slater worried about a building along a main thoroughfare, 30- to 40-feet high and 500 feet long that lacks details and finishing, standards he said they require every single homeowner to follow.

The school is not required to go through the Art Jury process, but Delaney said jury members were a part of the design process through their community design group.

“The Art Jury has been a great value, even though we didn’t go through the process,” said Delaney. “To their credit they’ve helped design a school the community can be very proud of.”

Slater said while he appreciated the compliments, the Art Jury involvement has been minimal. He said they hadn’t seen the final drawings until two weeks ago, even though drawings were released and voted on at the school board’s Feb. 5 meeting in front of a nearly empty audience.

“The school isn’t obligated to take the Art Jury’s suggestions but it is important,” said Association President Lois Jones. “I think the school has done an outstanding job but Paul’s words should be taken seriously.”

Rancho Santa Fe School District trustee Carlie Headapohl echoed that they have worked very hard on the design, to improve a school that for years that has been comprised of portable classrooms and buildings that are more than 50 years old.

“It’s going to look incredible compared to what we’ve been living with,” Headapohl.