Architects: Steinberg Architects
Location: Saratoga, California, USA
Project Team: David Hart, AIA – Principal in Charge, Jeffrey Berg, AIA – Project Manager, Michael Miller– Job Captain, Shawna Upp – Job Captain, Lisa Welty O’Hare – Interior Design, David Ewell, AIA, Ryan Upp, AIA, Krista Olson, Victoria McReynolds, DedeImpink, AIA – Specifications
Photographs: Tim Griffith
Located in Saratoga, Calif., West Valley College’s new technology classroom building has become a landmark and new campus gateway, framing both pedestrian and vehicular access to the campus.
The building’s layout is designed to encourage students to remain on campus and promotes informal interaction with classmates and faculty. It includes outdoor plazas and courtyards with wireless access for instruction as well as individual and group study.
The project faced four key challenges:
1. Creating a campus gateway and welcoming public image for the community.
2. Developing a strong connection between the exterior landscape and the interior academic learning environment.
3. Providing a technology rich learning environment that brings both students and faculty together for informal learning opportunities.
4. Expressing the importance of technology in education through high functionality, versus high tech appearance.
Reinforcing the college’s commitment to advanced instruction through distance and computer learning, the new 30,000 sq. ft. technology classroom building serves as the first of many wireless data buildings on campus and includes infrastructure to accommodate future technology. With its wireless infrastructure, the technology classroom building symbolically represents the integration of technology in our lives — clearly depicted by the way classrooms, corridors and outdoor spaces are seamlessly woven together.
The design encourages multiple outdoor experiences through a variety of seating areas within the plazas and courtyards. Internally, the extra wide corridors extend the building beyond the classroom, dissolving the threshold between inside and out via a visual and physical connection to the landscape. Through the successful development of formal and informal learning spaces, the project promotes collaboration and interconnection between classmates and faculty.
By combining a variety of technology resources, faculty have the opportunity to experiment and implement diverse instructional strategies. Users have seamless access to the Internet and remote instruction, as well as computer labs, classrooms, and other campus resources. Other building features include: smart podiums and display systems; integrated sound system controls; smart card entry and security systems; teaching laboratories; and, a computer center.
Current technology is integrated into classrooms, corridors and outdoor spaces to provide adaptable, multifunctional use of space. Wireless access is available in the courtyard and plazas to provide outdoor learning and additional instructional space. Group study areas are clustered in and around the building to encourage students to remain on campus thereby promoting informal interaction with classmates and faculty. Providing a mixture of both educational and public spaces, the design creates “active” social spaces and “passive” study spaces. Quiet and semi-quiet space is provided to support individual, group, and classroom environments.
The building is packaged in a simple unifying skin which weaves together program and exterior space throughout the site. It’s this weaving of the building’s form that allows the circulation to seamlessly flow and connect external and internal learning environments, inviting both students and the community to interact.