CannonDesign worked in association with Anderson Brulé Architects as well as the college to design the group of buildings, which includes a science center with modern labs and prep rooms, a music and visual arts center, and a learning commons housing a learning center, study rooms and a library. Equaling about 188,000 sf, the Academic Core replaces three older facilities built in the 1970s that resembled daunting “castles.” The new buildings are the complete opposite: open, airy and welcoming. Above all else, they were designed to enhance the college experience, providing new opportunities for students to focus on academics and forge the social connections that are so important to academic success.
“From the start, the college made it clear that all design decisions needed to be for the students,” said Carey Woo, senior vice president with CannonDesign. “We took that to heart and worked with the college to create a project wholly focused on the student experience. It’s amazing seeing the buildings in use, and we hope future students will use them in ways we have yet to even imagine.”
To ensure the college achieves its long-term goal of net-zero energy consumption, the Academic Core harnesses an existing on-site solar farm and introduce a new geothermal ground loop system that heats and cools the structures. Optimal building orientation, shading devices, daylight harvesting, high-performance building envelopes, water conservation measures and the use of materials salvaged from the demolition of the old buildings are all setting the project up to achieve LEED Gold certification.
Taking advantage of its hillside location, the buildings stand tall above the campus, creating a peaceful learning environment offering spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay.
“Walking into this building for this first time is amazing, because you just know there’s going to be decades after us coming here and seeing these same views, and we’re the first class being able to actually sit down and grasp this,” said Richard Pabalate to The Mercury news. “I think prospective students walking in here would feel more of a university kind of feel.”