Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz
Natoma Architects Inc.

Oxbow School

Napa, CA

The Oxbow School, founded by Ann Hatch and Robert Mondavi, offers sixty high school juniors a one-semester program of in-depth study and practice in the visual arts. Fifteen contiguous buildings and sites adjacent to downtown Napa, between the Napa River and Third Street and along Dewoody Street, provide the opportunity for the development of a campus. The plan adapts existing structures: a distinctive Victorian house is the administration and library, the headmaster and faculty occupy other existing residences, and apartments are converted into student dormitories.

These buildings are painted “Oxbow campus” green. New buildings—two new faculty houses added to the dormitories on Third Street as well as larger-scale facilities, such as studios and the multipurpose/dining hall—cohere the campus plan. The new structures are standardized sheds, flexible lofts with high ceilings and copious glazing of translucent channel glass or full-width roll-up glass doors, which at the push of a button dissolve the interiors into the landscape. The campus is structured by vegetation. Between the studio buildings are outdoor teaching courts, accessed by roll-up doors and shaded by trees. A series of terraces connects the buildings to the river; at the bend in the river, the terraces become an outdoor amphitheater.

The campus has two distinct faces. The Third Street buildings, which are opposite a residential neighborhood to the south, are articulated in widths of twenty-five feet to echo the scale of the houses; overhangs protect high glazing. On the north, facing the river, the buildings are mostly glass to gather light and access the view. The new main entrance to the campus is on Dewoody Street, which has been closed to form a central court.