Construction recently was completed on the new Palm Springs Unified School District's (PSUSD) Painted Hills Middle School, Desert Hot Springs, Calif. The school opened to about 800 students and 35 faculty members. It is situated on a 22-acre site and was built to relieve overcrowding at Desert Springs Middle School.

The $39.5 million project included construction of a 138,000-square-foot school, as well as infrastructure work for electrical, drainage and water.

Painted Hills Middle School is situated on a sloped site that offers picturesque mountain and valley views. The two-level school is composed of classroom wings joined by the central administration and library/media center.

An earth-tone color scheme highlights the exterior, and vivid base tones of blues and browns adorn the interior. Bright graphics denote inspiration, discovery, appreciation and innovation, helping to make the high-traffic areas of the school not only energetic and pleasing, but also educational.

The design has sustainable features that meet CHPS (Collaborative for High Performance Schools) certification requirements.

A courtyard featuring an outdoor amphitheater and the covered lunch shelter is in the center of the school. The classrooms and labs are organized into interdisciplinary grade-level learning groups.

The facility was designed by Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke Associates (Riverside, Calif.) McCarthy Building Companies (Newport Beach, Calif.) was general contractor.