View of Playground from Large Open StairView of Playground from Large Open Stair
Exterior Social Stair to LibraryExterior Social Stair to Library
View towards Front EntryView towards Front Entry
Typical Classroom BuildingTypical Classroom Building
Covered Walkway and Play AreaCovered Walkway and Play Area
Play AreasPlay Areas
Berkeley Unified School District Rosa Parks Elementary School
View of Playground from Large Open StairExterior Social Stair to LibraryView towards Front EntryTypical Classroom BuildingCovered Walkway and Play AreaPlay Areas
Project Details Back
Berkeley Unified School District Rosa Parks Elementary School
Berkeley, CA

After Rosa Parks Elementary was declared seismically unsafe following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the Berkeley Unified School District realized its vision of creating a community-oriented “beacon school” to serve the community and become a model for urban areas throughout the nation. Working closely with the district, teachers, and community members, RATCLIFF planned and designed a new K-5 school that provides pre-school, before- and after-school childcare programs, a Learning Resource Center for students and parents, as well as space for family programs, counseling, and healthcare services.


Composed of a series of buildings which fit comfortably into the existing residential neighborhood, classrooms are clustered to provide varied programs where ideas, materials and resources are shared in a mutually supportive learning environment. Color is cleverly used to enhance forms and shapes and differentiate special spaces and buildings. For example, the Reading Resource Room uses a classic schoolhouse red to proclaim its importance at the very center of the site while its shape evokes the water towers that were part of the neighborhood’s historic fabric.