The El Segundo Unified School District held a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 18, 2022, for Center Street School’s redesigned front driveway that now provides a safe and welcoming entrance for students, families, employees, and visitors.
The new front entrance was officially opened on April 11 to welcome families back to school after spring recess.
Funded by Measure ES, Center Street School received major renovations to the front drop-off and pick-up lane. The entire driveway was re-graded and widened to improve ADA access, pedestrian safety, and traffic flow. In addition, “attention was given to outdoor seating to provide a safe space for students/parents to wait, and to sustainability features,” said Center Street Principal Martha Monahan during the ribbon cutting ceremony.
The primary goal is to increase student safety where pedestrians and vehicles converge during student drop-off and pick-up. The sidewalk along the west edge of the driveway was widened and a new sidewalk will be added to the driveway’s east edge. The redesign provides clear paths for pedestrian travel on all sides and includes the addition of a raised crosswalk for safe crossing through the center of the driveway. Drivers will have better crosswalk visibility through the elimination of parking spaces that create blind spots.
The balance between improved access and safety and school aesthetics was incorporated into the design, which includes landscaping and preservation of existing trees. For pedestrians approaching from Center Street and East Palm Avenue, there is a new set of front stairs and an ADA “meandering path” with gradual incline to the north of the stairs. Improvements to the parking area near the main office include 11 additional parking spaces and two ADA parking spots.
Key features of the redesign include:
Lower Circle – The entrance from the north end of campus provided a unique challenge. The grade change or difference in height elevation between the north entrance and the doors of the administration building is quite deceiving if you are walking on Center Street. There is a nearly 17-feet difference that the design team had to navigate. To achieve the gradual ramp, a serpentine pathway was created that allowed connection of new elements of the project such as a circular plaza, new trees, a new campus gate entrance, a half-moon seating area, and an upgraded staff parking lot.
Seating Area – The new seating area is also intended to be an alternative meeting area or outdoor learning space on campus. The area that was once a grass slope allows for parents to converse while awaiting the dismissal bell. By taking advantage of the slope change, the seating area was integrated into the site with landscaping serving as a background. The nearly 1,100-square-foot area includes a distinct herringbone pattern of pavers enclosed by planter boxes.
Trees and Tree Wells – Throughout the design process, the construction team focused on how to maintain the three existing trees that lined the front of the school. ESUSD, site staff and construction team members provided several design iterations to determine the right balance of providing a wider and safer drive pathway, pedestrian pathways on either side of the driveway and a more visible pedestrian walkway without impeding on the tree root system or having to relocate the trees. The selected solution was to navigate in and around existing trees and minimize impact to the adjacent slopes around the trees, which resulted in three wells comprised of concrete walls and brick veneer. In addition to the existing trees, 8 mid-sized trees were added around the campus.
Entrance – The entrance leading from the Palm Avenue crosswalk to the administration building went through many iterations and discussions regarding how to address the drastic change in grade level from the public sidewalk and the new walkway. The original steep sloped walkway was uncomfortable and inaccessible. The design team implemented the solution of widening the entrance, provided stairs that directly lead to the elevated speed table and added an accessible sloped walk adjacent to the north. Solar light bollards illuminate the entrance and help lead students and parents during evening hours. Brick pavers at the speed table give an aesthetically pleasing contrast to the horseshoe driveway and signal drivers that students are crossing.
School Logo – Throughout the design process, the team sought to incorporate the graphic identity of the school into the redesign. Keeping with the theme of the brick pavers, the design team worked with a paving manufacturer to fabricate and produce a direct translation of the school’s logo to a physical hardscape pattern that welcomes students and visitors to the front of the administration building and overall campus. The logo was constructed utilizing abrasive water jet technology and computerized design software to create a mosaic of the original design. The logo gives vibrancy and excitement to the driveway and encourages pride in the school through its affirmation of the school motto – Community, Authenticity, Resilience, and Excellence.
Meandering Pathway – Providing an accessible sloped walk with limited railing was challenging. However, through many plan iterations and design proposals, the meandering sloped walkway, new signage, and planter have become the identifying statement piece of Center Street School’s front driveway renovation. The meandering path provides an accessible path of travel from the Palm Avenue crosswalk to the elevated speed table across the horseshoe driveway. Along the street side of this pathway, the brick planter and stainless-steel signage enhances the school’s identity and community presence, while also integrating into the campus aesthetic. It should be noted that the meandering pathway was the brainchild of ESUSD’s Facility Advisory Committee.
“Being able to see these Measure ES projects come to fruition as outlined in ESUSD’s Long Range Facilities Master Plan is exciting and gratifying,” said ESUSD Superintendent Melissa Moore. “We are extremely grateful to El Segundo voters for the passage of Measure ES. In addition, we are grateful to the Facility Advisory Committee for the thoughtful recommendations they bring forward on these construction projects. A special thank you to the El Segundo Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for providing parking in their lot for Center Street School’s faculty and staff during construction, and to the school site neighbors for their patience and understanding throughout the duration of construction.”
All Measure ES projects are reviewed by ESUSD’s Facilities Advisory Committee and key stakeholders for thoughtful input during the early design stages. Visit www.elsegundousd.net for ongoing construction updates.