Transforming the Heart of a Campus in Net-Zero Style

Ohlone Community College District, Academic Core Buildings, Fremont, California

As part of a major campus update, Ohlone Community College (Ohlone) sought to create a transformational academic core reflective of its vision and values: inclusiveness, innovation, student success and a bold commitment to the environment. Patterned after an Italian hill town and built on the slopes of steep hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the existing 1970s Ohlone campus no longer serves the needs of modern learning and presents considerable accessibility challenges. With its new academic core, Ohlone seeks to breathe new life into its Fremont campus by creating a new campus heart fueled by extraordinarily sustainable and accessible learning environments.

The transformative project encompasses the design and construction of three new academic buildings as well as improvements and updates to existing infrastructure. The effort will modernize Ohlone’s academic programs through the introduction of a new science center, art building and learning commons, which will include a library, tutoring labs and collaborative learning centers. All of the buildings will feature technology-enhanced classrooms, laboratories and lecture halls.

Designed to break out of the traditional “commuter campus” mold, the project includes ample spaces that encourage students to stay and linger. Strategically designed and located “collision zones” exist throughout the buildings to encourage formal and informal opportunities for student learning and collaboration. Outside, a new campus “Main Street” promotes an active pedestrian experience filled with areas for studying and respite, while opening the campus to sweeping views of the Bay. Anderson Brule served as the associate architect.

Achieving Net Zero

With a long-term goal of achieving net-zero energy consumption, the design for the academic core harnesses an existing on-site solar farm and introduces a new geothermal ground loop system that will heat and cool the new buildings. Optimal building orientation, shading devices, daylight harvesting, high-performance building envelopes, and the mild climate are among a few of the many factors supporting the college’s net zero aspirations.

The project was designed to exceed the energy code requirements of the California Title 24.

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