A new building for Santa Barbara High School’s Visual Arts & Design Academy is in the works.
As it’s imagined, the facility will include administrative office space as well as a conference room and two studio classrooms.
One design lab will be utilized for all digital design and photography — and be equipped to handle equipment like 3D scanners, industrial sewing machines, vinyl plotters and more — and the other will be a more traditional analog art studio, Daniel Barnett, the VADA program director, told the News-Press Wednesday.
The studios can be used separately or as one giant classroom, Mr. Barnett said.
Santa Barbara High’s VADA program is a four-year, career-technical educational program. The “school within a school” serves about 220 students (roughly 10% of the total student population) and has 20 classes.
The new building — which Mr. Barnett equated to a stadium for student-athletes — will be tucked away in what was described as an “underutilized and underdeveloped” corner by East Canon Perdido Street on Santa Barbara High’s campus near most of VADA’s classes.
It was designed in conjunction with partner companies (such as Adobe, Deckers and Patagonia), which provided feedback on what kind of facility is needed to properly train students.
“We’ve done so many great things in the space that we have, and it’s funky and quaint and creative and cool, but we’re going to be able to do and realize so much more of the potential of the program and the students in the new space,” Mr. Barnett said. “What the new building says to our creative students about how important and valuable and marketable and viable their work and their future is, that’s really important.”
“It’s a beacon and declaration of how we’re prioritizing student preparation and their work,” Mr. Barnett, who has been VADA’S program director since 2007, added.
An update on the project and fundraising was presented to the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday. The board approved a memorandum of understanding for the new building in 2019.
In all, about $6 million has been raised for the new building through various means, including grants and private donations, Andy Beall, president of the nonprofit Friends of VADA group, said.
Friends of VADA has raised more than $2.5 million as of Tuesday, Mr. Beall said, through private donations and foundation grants.
The project is expected to cost about $4.8 million, albeit that estimate will be more concrete once a contractor is selected. The goal is to award a bid in July.
Funds are still needed for the second phase of the project, which includes other nearby facilities.
“I really appreciate the creativity in the different funding sources — the Office of Public School Construction, the grant, the fundraising — that really shows the collaboration and the effort and the desire to make it happen,” board member Virginia Alvarez said.
Superintendent Dr. Hilda Maldonado expressed her appreciation for the project, adding: “The gratitude extends not just about money but the belief in our students, school system and the great care that we take for our kids and their future.”
The new 3,350 square-foot building will heavily feature students’ artwork, as well. Demolition of two existing portables will be completed to make room for the new building.
The Division of the State Architect — which provides design and construction oversight for K-12 schools and various other state facilities — has already approved the project, according to Tuesday’s presentation.
The VADA program has grown by about 125% over the past three years, according to a project description.