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College of the Desert Donald and Peggy Cravens Student Services Center
(# 42)
Images Description Credits
Completion 4 / 2010
Specific Use of Building Student Services, Administration, Classroom
Project Location Palm Desert, California
Designed to be a 21st Century “one-stop center” to access student services, this LEED Gold certified project is developed as an iconic structure acting as a gateway to the Campus. The “one-stop” concept arranges all of the disparate services scattered throughout the campus into one cohesive location, arranged in a shopping mall-like layout to maximize visibility of the various departments for first time visitors. A primary goal of this “one-stop shop” was to lend a helping hand to each student so they fell at home on campus, thus lowering the school’s dropout rate. By examining how and why student services were provided, the firm worked with the client to place the student at the center of every interaction.

Friendly, warm, accessible, light-filled, and clearly organized are terms the students and faculty use to describe the interior of the building. Materials and the color palette were chosen for the desert climate, long term durability and comfort of the users.

The simple rectangular shape, oriented with the long axis facing north and south, is a direct response to the sun’s path. A simple structural grid creates an economical structure which allows for the angled corner to act as the celebrated façade. Clad with sandstone to recall the colors of the surrounding mountains, and the dramatic curved glass wall to metaphorically connote an open book, the entry lobby glows at night as a “lantern of learning” to the community. Narrow and deep set windows on the south protect from the sun and flush windows on the north allow for views and natural light.

A north facing, linear clerestory provides natural daylight on the second floor, creating a light-filled passageway. With floor openings on the second floor, the clerestory light filters down to the first floor, illuminating that gathering space. Clear pathways and intuitive wayfinding are implemented to avoid the traditional circuitous paths that are typical of multi-department structures.

Sustainable landscaping is implemented helping to define the entry sequence from the public way. A building of this type requires multiple entry points, thus each façade responds accordingly to it adjacent functions. The main floor is stained concrete which is contrasted by the warmth of the wood paneled walls and ceilings.

With a limited budget, this project has provided an innovative result for the client. It combines sustainable features, cutting edge materials, pioneering technologies and logical siting. The combination of the various program elements including student service departments, classrooms, bookstore and various offices, results in a truly dynamic project for the College. 


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