The design of University High School was recently awarded the Association of Licensed Architects 2014 Presidential Award.
The award was presented to world-renowned architect Arthur Dyson and DSJ Architects. Dyson has been an architect for over 40 years now, having designed more than 700 buildings.
“The design was inspired by the visionary outlook of the school board that selected us and the forward thinking pedagogy of the school,” said Dyson.
“For me, it is the nature of human experience that defines architecture. Architecture is not simply something that you can see, but something you experience,” he said. “It is an intimate interaction between the tangible and the intangible.
“It has been called the genius loci, or the distinctive character or atmosphere of a place, with reference to the impression that it makes on the mind.”
Dyson’s goal for the building was to provide something of value for his clients. His intention was to “design a meaningful building that would offer joy and stimulate the lives of those that would occupy it.”
The architect looked into every detail including lighting, acoustics, illumination, scale, texture, shadow, color, pattern and rhythm. According to Dyson, these were motivated by a “collective vision and desire for a better learning and teaching environment.”
Dr. James Bushman, head of University High School, was involved in the final touches of Dyson’s design, as well as the furnishings that were included inside the school.
Before the building was complete, Bushman said he assumed the design of the school would be a traditional and average design.
“That, of course, is the genius of a good architect,” said Bushman. “We’ve always felt lucky to be in a building designed by one of the great architects of our time. I think everybody is very happy and proud that they get to do work in such a beautiful building.”
Built mostly of steel, Bushman said the building is “designed to be forward thinking.” Right next to the Smittcamp House, Bushman calls the buildings’ contrast “the bookends of the entire campus.”
Dyson has won 19 major design awards this year alone due his work, winning over 150 major awards in his lifetime.
While his office is based in Fresno, he creates and designs buildings all over the world. The development of friendships in the area and involvement in the Fresno arts community has kept him from moving, Dyson said.
His next project is Bullard High School, where he’s in the beginning stages of a master plan for the school. He is also finishing the construction of a small shopping center located in Selma.
As for future plans, Dyson is in discussion of designing three new, high-rise financial towers in Beijing, and a hotel in Panama City, Florida.