The Thomas Fire was one of the most destructive in California history and burned a total of 281,000 acres. Among the over 1,000 structures burned by the blaze was the Upper Campus of the Ojai Valley School. In one night, the fire blazed through most of the 195-acre campus. Architect Frederick Fisher is a parent of Ojai Valley School students, so he decided that when it came to rebuilding the campus, he wanted to do so in a way that offered more fire resilience.
Los Angeles-based Frederick Fisher and Partners designed the new campus with fire-resistant exterior materials like stucco and metal-framed windows. They also avoided nooks and crannies in structures which could potentially trap embers. The layout includes courtyards which offer “a sense of intimacy and protection.” Landscape architect Pamela Burton designed the outdoor areas with large buffers between the campus and the surrounding natural hillsides.
The school officially re-opened their doors to students in late August. Fisher told Fast Company, “This is our landscape, so we have to learn to live with it in a sustainable way.”