For schools seeking to transform their learning spaces into an environment that meets modern expectations, Emily offers a pathway to achievable results.


Let’s go back to the beginning; all the way back to our first Emily™ classroom…

It was back in 2003 when ATI first designed Emily™. Mount Diablo USD had a need to replace old classroom buildings and expand their school sites. We not only wanted to win this project but we wanted to create a design that would become a learning environment of the future. We envisioned these classrooms being built at every school district.

In our mind, the classroom of the future had to be adaptable to various educational specifications. It needed to have a fast construction schedule. It needed to be permanent construction and built on-site, opposed to portable or modular construction.

And so the process began… It began with thinking about the learning environment and of those who would use them. We sought guidance from students, teachers, administrators, contractors, vendors, and facilities personnel. We asked them what they needed, what was important in their classroom, and what they wished for the future.

Then with time, what began life as Abigail shaped into Beatrice and finally came to full fruition as Emily™…These classroom buildings can be found throughout the Mt. Diablo USD as well as throughout the State of California. Today, over 1,000 Emily™ classrooms have been built and we thank all of our School District clients for challenging us to not only just design, but to develop a classroom of the future.

If your school is thinking about expanding or rebuilding, we encourage you to meet Emily™. We think you’ll agree that her performance earns an A+.

ATI is currently Reusing the Gymnasium/MPR design from Martin Luther King, Jr., Junior High School for the Willow Cove Elementary School Modernization Project.

Reusing a previously approved design offers tremendous advantages over an original design when cost and schedule are major project considerations. In regard to schedule, previously approved DSA construction documents have a shorter bin time when resubmitted for a new project.

When considering costs, typically there are savings in both construction and design fees as previous construction revisions have been incorporated into the construction documents and to a large degree, the design is finished.

In the case of Willow Cove, in addition to schedule and cost, there was another benefit to the District in that desired program changes were easier to develop as we were working from a base design.

Those changes involved replacing the locker rooms from the previous design with a kitchen. While these changes proposed a challenge for our Engineering Department, they were overcome with innovative, quick solutions and allowed us to complete the design of the 14,000 sf building and submit to DSA within 5 weeks.

5 weeks from beginning of design to DSA submittal on a 14,000 sf building? Yeah, that’s fast!

As for the structural revisions, MLK’s MPR building had symmetrical two bays of cross bracing that support and provide lateral resistance to earthquakes. However, for Willow Cove’s MPR building one of these in particular could not be designed because of the access into the new Kitchen area. ATI’s Architects and Structural Engineers worked together to find an additional location for bracing along the wall.

ATI’s Structural Engineers also developed a creative solution that resulted in more storage room under the stage. In order to do this, fire protection had to be provided to the supporting walls underneath the stage. Fire protection is typically achieved by nailing gypsum boards to the wood framing. However, DSA requires plywood, in addition to the gypsum board for shear resistance, which would result in less storage space. ATI’s Structural Engineers recommended Sure-Board, a steel sheet and gypsum board composite, that meets the DSA required shear value and maximizes the amount of storage space for the School District.

In the end, ATI met the Districts goal of getting into DSA fast, setting the stage for the new/reuse building to open August 2016.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson, announced 193 Middle Schools and 180 High Schools have been honored under the State’s new Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program.

ATI would like to congratulate our School District Clients who received this award. We believe our teachers and students deserve the best learning environments and we accomplish this in our designs.  We create flexible and adaptable learning spaces which are conducive to any teaching and learning style. Below is a list of our School District Clients and their respective schools who earned awards.

Acalanes Union High School District:
Campolindo High School
Las Lomas High School
Miramonte High School

Antioch Unified School District:
Dozier-Libbey Medical High School

San Ramon Valley Unified School District:
Monte Vista High School
San Ramon Valley High School
Charlotte Wood Middle School

Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District:
Granada High School

ABC Unified School District:
Artesia High School

Moreno Valley Unified School District:
Bayside Community Day School

“These schools are academically successful, vibrant, and innovative centers of learning and teaching,” Torlakson said. “They provide great examples of the things educators are doing right—embracing rigorous academic standards, providing excellence and creativity in teaching, and creating a positive school climate.”

The Gold Ribbon Schools Awards Program recognizes California schools that have made gains in implementing the academic content and performance standards adopted by the State Board of Education. These include, the California Standards for English Language Arts and Mathematics, California English Language Development Standards, and Next Generation Science Standards.

For more information, please go to the California Gold Ribbon Schools Program Web site.
For Tom Torlakson’s press release, click here.

San Marcos USD hired ATI to expand San Marcos Elementary School by adding on four EmilyTM Classroom Buildings. The EmilyTM Classrooms provided the District with a fast solution to their overcrowding problem. The prototypical classrooms are 960 sf each, DSA Pre-Checked, and feature a metal roof and block veneer wainscot to tie the existing buildings on campus.

Check out the short clip below featuring this project.

Do you remember as a kid asking your teacher, “Can we have class outside today?!  Pleaaaaassseeee?!!”  It was so rewarding to be outside breathing in fresh air while learning the Capitals of the 50 States.  In California where the weather is nice 99.9% of the time, I wonder why there aren’t more outdoor classrooms.

There are so many benefits of using the outdoors as your classroom. I recently read an article that reports a study done by the U.K.’s King’s College London that proposes teaching outdoors makes educators more confident and enthusiastic about their work, and more innovative in their teaching strategies[1]. Other studies have showed that time outdoors helps students succeed in school by improving their memory, problem solving, and creativity.[2] Being outside reinvigorates both students and teachers.

So, why am I blogging about learning in the outside environment?  Well, if you recall from previous blogs ATI won a design competition for the San Juan Unified School District’s Winston Churchill Middle School Project.  This is a 21st Century Learning School and, in addition to creating indoor flexible learning environments, our design for this campus expansion includes outdoor learning.  Our creative Architects focused on bringing the inside learning environment to the outdoors.

There are concrete seats at the existing site and more will be added to provide additional outdoor learning spaces.  The new Classroom Buildings will be jogged with alcoves, offering space for teachers to take students outside.  Not only will this re-energize students and teachers, it also offers more space, flexibility, and small group learning.

Taking the Inside Out classroom approach will be the next development in California Schools.  Your students and teachers deserve the best learning environments which nature can provide.  As your School District grows and the need for more flexible learning environments evolves, consider the outdoor learning environment as a solution.  It will enhance academic achievement when combined with the holistic elements of the evolving 21st Century Learning environment.

aerial north view
David Suzuki, Co-Founder of the David Suzuki Foundation, is an award-winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster. He is renowned for his radio and television programs that explain the complexities of the natural sciences in a compelling, easily understood way. For more information on the David Suzuki Foundation, visit


To a play along with social media’s favorite hashtag #tbt, ATI has decided to look back at previous projects.

Today’s Throwback Thursday project is Adelante High School Emily™ Classrooms. Adelante High School started as little more than a single classroom housing 8 students and 1 instructor when it was established in 1965 at the Roseville City District’s Atlantic Street School. While working with the District, ATI developed a Master Plan that included partial modernization of the existing campus and portable replacements that were desperately needed. Emily™ was chosen as the best option to replace the portables and in the end six (6) classrooms and two (2) Administrative Offices/Classroom spaces were completed in 2007. This school received a 2008 Leroy F. Greene / A.I.A. Design Award of Merit. The photo shows a before and after comparison of the school.

The Emily™ classrooms designs have been built over a 1,000 times throughout the State of California.  Emily™ classrooms are permanent construction which makes these designs the best solution to aging portables.  We believe that Emily™ provides the learning environment that our students and teachers deserve.

Do you remember having classes in portable buildings?





Teachers and students of San Marcos Elementary School and Carrillo Elementary School started using their new classrooms right before Thanksgiving.  Four (4) 960 sq ft Emily Classrooms were added to the San Marcos ES and five (5) 960 sq ft classrooms were added to Carrillo ES.  The over the counter DSA approval allowed for aggressive design and construction schedules.

San Marcos USD wanted the new classrooms to tie into the existing classroom buildings.  ATI Architects achieved this by making upgrades to the prototypical Emily Classroom design.  The classrooms feature metal roofs, block veneer wainscot, and stucco soffits instead of plywood.  Other new classroom features to highlight are the computer counters and backpack holders.

Stay tuned to see a video featuring the classrooms and testimonials from the District.



We wish you and yours the merriest and brightest of holidays. May the magic of the season fill your home with warmth and your heart with happiness.