Diablo Valley College
DIABLO VALLEY COLLEGE,
PLEASANT HILL, CA
82,000 SQUARE FEET +
DESIGN PRINCIPAL AT
Diablo Valley College (DVC) is one of three publicly supported two-year community colleges in the Contra Costa Community College District and is the single largest direct feeder to the University of California at Berkeley. A 2006 bond provided funds for a new Student Services Building.
Despite being a commuter college, the disconnected collection of campus buildings and disjointed open space created no clear way-finding, a distinct sense of place, or identity for the campus. At the practical level, the circuitous layout also lacked the accessibility now required by the State of California. With this in mind, we worked with DVC to conceptualize three objectives for the new heart of campus. The first was to consider a building location with the best access for students while negating the need for temporary trailer space in order to reduce project costs. Second, we considered how to site and orient the building to reinforce campus circulation while making it accessible. Lastly, we wanted to use this project as a means to form a campus quadrangle.
We split the project into two buildings, connected by a glass bridge, that framed a new main pedestrian mall connecting the main and upper campus levels. The two-building approach allowed us to fulfill our first two
objectives of phasing the development by avoiding costly temporary teaching spaces and improving campus circulation. We met the third objective by using the placement of these two buildings to form a new 3.5-acre central space, now called The Commons. The new buildings themselves are forward-looking but respectful of their context. The exterior is clad in the campus standard red-brown brick, albeit with contemporary details and patterning. The project achieved LEED Gold status and includes innovative water and energy saving strategies such as radiant heating and cooling, chilled beams, light courts, storm water gardens, and rainwater harvesting. Built-in energy-saving technology and new intimate teaching spaces make learning a delight.
Diablo Valley College’s new Student Service buildings have completely transformed the college by creating a new campus heart; other campuses across the state have used the project as a model. It has inspired a follow-up planning project, which involves creating a unified campus vision to develop several new buildings with a 2014 bond. The new buildings will mimic the connectivity of the two campus center buildings to create a new Diablo Valley College panorama.