Stunning $140 Million Malibu Makeover At Old Cabrillo Campus Gets First OK From School Board

Written by on May 1, 2021

KBUU NEWS 6:55 am FRI APR 31 – POSTED 7:45 am SAT MAY 1

Malibu High School is one step closer to opening a stunning new building … with a central veranda situated to take in a view up the Zuma Beach coast … in 2024.

Thursday night … the Santa Monica Malibu school board gave the first green light to a 140 million dollar removal of Juan Cabrillo school … and construction of a two story high classroom building on the site.

The money comes from Measure M, a $195 million school bond issue for Malibu’s four campuses, approved by voters in 2018.

The two story structure will be set back further from Morning View Drive than the 70 year old elementary school that it will replace.

It¬†will not be a set of classrooms at all … but a series of collaborative spaces.

Architect Nathan Bishop says the idea is to mix things up.

NEWSCART 73432 MHS BISHOP that all gets integrated.

It’s a noncompartmentalized learning.

“It’s not like the science kids are all over here, and the arts kids are all over here.

“There’s a social landscape to this endeavor as well that creates a visual proximity regardless of whether it’s a humanities, science, art or collaborative-based learning … that all gets integrated.”

The existing front of the old Cabrillo campus would get a U-shaped bus drop-off area … shaded by a canopy of trees.

Notably … the two gigantic ficus trees next to the Cabrillo campus would be saved and become the centerpiece of the new building’s front driveway circle.

The new building would be shifted north … from where Cabrillo sits …. to take better advantage of the ocean views.

That was a recommendation from students and parents last year.

The existing parking lot access road … up the middle of the campus … would become a pedestrian plaza.

Access to the bus garage and upper student parking lot would be shifted to a winding access road … through where the old elementary school playground is now.

The bus garage and upper parking lot remain unchanged.

And the center of the old high school campus … the auditorium … gym … swimming pool … will not be changed until a later phase …. maybe a decade away.

But the new high school building is unlike any classroom building we’ve ever seen.

Indoor spaces spilling out to outdoor spaces.

For example … the kiln to fire student artwork … will be outdoors … with a little pavillion around it.

Architect Michael Pinto …


One of the things were really excited about is that when you enter the building … the first experience is going to be making … it’s going to be projects … it has the potential for this school as it grows to really claim these kinds of social spaces as places for display .. to really put the work of the students front and center.”

The cost … 100 million dollars for construction now … another 40 million in associated costs later.

Money is in the bank … voters approved the cost in a bond issue. One Malibu parent spoke … Jennifer Pappas … at Thursday’s unveiling.¬†


“I was really excited when the design team came to Malibu Elementary School and give a presentation to the parents.

“It was hard to plan it with everything that was going on … with the reopening … but we made it happen and the feedback was tremendous.

“Not only were the parents excited to see an great facility for our kids … and a lot of our fourth and fifth graders would be incoming freshmen.

“And t was exciting to see that.”

The plans will have to go to the city council and Coastal Commission for approval.

The schedule is tight.

Demolition of Juan Cabrillo would be in summer of next year.

The new high school would open two years later … in the fall of 2024.

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