The vision for the Skyline College Environmental Sciences facility is to capture and integrate the spectacular views and rich natural resources of the California Pacific Coast with college academics and special events at Skyline College. Located on the very western edge of the campus, the facility is placed strategically to allow students and the public an uncompromising view of the coast as well as a unique opportunity to provide indoor and outdoor learning spaces at the confluence of several native species of plants and animals as well as a popular Bay Area trail system.
Among the challenges in placing a facility at this location, was the lack of an apparent site, the impact of the built environment on the natural resources, and the ability to connect the facility to the rest of the campus. The solution suggests a low, fan shaped building form which nestles into the hillside and maximizes the view. The “ring road” around the campus is diverted into the parking area, a strong pedestrian plaza is developed to provide safety and a focused, landscaped flanked connection points patrons back to the center of College.
The building is intended to serve as the home for Environmental Studies at the College, and so it offers flexible lecture and dry laboratory spaces with a gallery and outdoor deck area for direct access to collaborative and outdoor spaces. Natural ventilation, daylighting, solar shading and precipitation harvesting are all innovative strategies the facility is targeting to meet LEED® standards while also providing a teaching tool for the environmental effects on building systems.
In addition to the academic resources the building provides, the facility also intends to host special events for the college, District and public alike. The circulation space doubles as a social gathering area and can be arranged to accommodate dinners, auctions and ceremonies as supported by the College District’s enterprise affiliations. A catering kitchen and waste disposal area ensures that the needs of public are well met under these special occasions.
It’s not often that a College can develop a facility on a site that rivals the greatest of ocean views, and at the same time offer that space to the public and for those attending a Community College. This is a rare opportunity to develop a facility that captures that vision and delivers a promise that education can happen anywhere particularly in awe-inspiring places that reinforce the commitment of our educators.