CAW Architects recently completed a facility for the Oakland, Calif., school district that feeds students and teaches them how to grow, harvest, and cook produce grown onsite. The production kitchen at the Unified School District Central Kitchen, Instructional Farm, and Education Center (“The Center”) prepares and distributes about 30,000 meals a day for district schools lacking their own kitchens.
The site also provides training for school district cafeteria workers and educational programs for students to learn about culinary arts, science, health, wellness, and agriculture. A greenhouse and demonstration garden illustrate growing cycles and how to identify different types of produce. The greenhouse produces starter plants from seed to supply about 60 school gardens. Culinary instruction takes place in a classroom outfitted with a full-service demonstration and teaching kitchen, and in an outdoor kitchen equipped with a pizza oven.
A courtyard serves as the facility’s central hub, connecting the production kitchen, indoor classrooms, and outdoor classrooms. Large glass roll-up doors open the indoors to the courtyard. An expansive wood trellis shades the courtyard and reduces glare in classrooms.
The building’s energy efficiency gets a boost from a hot water system that uses captured waste heat from a highly efficient C02 closed-loop refrigeration system. A solar-ready roof has space to support solar panels that will supply half of the production kitchen’s electric power.
The next phase of the project will use an undeveloped portion of the site to create an urban farm, community garden, and nature play space. The farm will offer career training for high school students and adult education programs.
Owner and/or developer: Oakland (Calif.) Unified School District
Design architect: CAW Architects
Architect of record: CAW Architects
MEP engineer: Integral Group
Structural engineer: SOHA Engineers
Construction manager: Cumming Group