Harbor Day School cleared for total makeover of CdM campus

A rendering depicts the future entrance to Harbor Day School at 3443 Pacific View Drive in Corona del Mar.
(Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

Harbor Day School has approval from the city of Newport Beach to completely rebuild its Corona del Mar campus.

The private school, which enrolls about 400 students in kindergarten through eighth grade at 3443 Pacific View Drive, got the Planning Commission’s OK Thursday night for the development project, which will tear down and rebuild the campus in three phases over three years.

Plans call for expanded classroom, office, performing arts, gym and parking space on the 6.5-acre site. The oldest parts of the campus date back close to 50 years, with additions in the 1980s and ’90s.

The school currently covers about 68,000 square feet. The new campus will cover about 100,000 square feet.

The school is not seeking a change to its enrollment limit, which is set at 480 students.

The new campus will consolidate the number of buildings from four to two. The classroom and administration building will have two second-story decks facing an interior quad area, and the parking lot will be enlarged and reconfigured. Between the school’s continuing long-term lease with the city to use the neighboring Big Canyon Reservoir parking lot and the additional on-campus parking, Harbor Day will have 144 spaces.

Students will use portable classrooms during the construction.

Angi Evans, Harbor Day’s head of school, said the campus was built when classrooms were configured as rows of desks facing a teacher at a blackboard. That uniform arrangement is rarely used now, and the rooms are now too small.

“Today’s instructional methods that build 21st-century skills require classrooms that have the space and flexibility to allow for students to work in small and large groups and to work with materials to flex their creative muscles and strengthen their critical thinking skills,” Evans said.

The commission approved the plan 6-0, with Commissioner Lauren Kleiman recusing herself because of a family connection to the school.

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