The College Center is a true mixed use project, uniquely tied to its sense of place along the foothills of the Superstition Mountains. The open and interactive program provides many types of learning spaces to fit a diverse student body. Spaces include student services, science teaching labs, classrooms, library, tutoring center, computer commons, offices, community room, café, and bookstore.
Narrative: The new ‘heart’ of the campus, the College Center is sited at the center of campus, bridging an existing arroyo that provides a unique link to the microclimate of the desert landscape. A key goal of the College was to present a new face to the community and build an iconic centerpiece to the campus that would create precedence for future growth.
The building layout was organized by creating two centers; the student commons, defined by a large folded ceiling that spans across open learning spaces with floor to ceiling glass; the second by a group of five science teaching labs with a technical focus. The two centers are linked by a bridge occupied by offices and lounge areas that provides an academic link between functions. Open lounges and learning spaces, combined with a café, open computer lab and exterior patio space encourages collaborative and flexible learning. Tutoring and library services are easily accessible off common areas offering extended learning opportunities and casual interaction
Building materials were chosen for their tie to local contextual references, durability and sustainability. Forms and surfaces of the building recall rugged mountain bluffs and folded foothills of the Superstition Mountains. Exterior surfaces include integral color concrete with a hand screed finish, copper panels with natural patina, low-E insulated glass, exposed structural steel and acoustic cedar ceiling panels. Natural finishes and structural longevity are inherent in all materials providing long life span with little to no maintenance. The material palette creates a distinct look, provides context and inspiration for future development.
A separate renovation project ran concurrently with the new building construction. Existing program spaces were moved to the new building while additional program filled the vacated space. Relocation of space and construction scheduling was phased around the college calendar and included temporary housing during low demand periods. High levels of foresight and planning were required to coordinate between the design team, the contractor and the college.
Photography: Bill Timmerman, Mark Boisclair