Design Highlights Commitment to the Arts and Lifelong Learning

(RIVERSIDE, Calif.) May 3, 2016 — Two years after breaking ground, the Centennial Plaza in Riverside, California was unveiled to the public recently. Designed by one of California’s largest integrated sustainable design firms, LPA Inc., the Riverside Community College District (RCCD) celebrated its 100th anniversary with the dedication of the Centennial Plaza with more than 400 guests of community members and faculty.

The four buildings that make up the Centennial Plaza include the Center for Social Justice and Civil Liberties(CSJCL), a rehabilitated 1920s, two-story building, a four-story Riverside Community College (RCC) Culinary Arts Academy and District Offices (CAADO) with a restaurant open to the public two-story Coil School for the Arts (CSA) and a four-story parking structure which serves all of the buildings.

“This project serves a dual purpose—it provides state-of-the-art spaces for instruction and brings the community downtown to enjoy the arts. The design puts the arts on display, exploring the synergies between higher education and the urban environment, the historic and the modern to create a layered sense of place”, said Franco Brown, Associate / Design Director at LPA.

“The architectural expression of each building responds to their unique function; yet the use of scale, rhythm, landscaping and glass allows them form a cohesive group and to establish a dialogue with their surroundings,” he added.

The 60,000-square-foot CAADO building provides district offices and academic programs in a new state-of-the-art facility. The majority of the ground floor is occupied by the Culinary Arts Academy featuring several kitchens, a multimedia demonstration kitchen, a bakery and a restaurant open to the public on the corner. On the top floor, there is a shaded deck and vegetated for special events and performances that will give students a practical experience and allow the community to host a celebrations and open-air events or to enjoy a meal before attending a performance.

The main feature of the CSA building is a concert hall with a 450-seat capacity. “We designed the space itself to function as a music instrument, using a motorized sound reflection cloud, mechanized absorption draping and deployable acoustical panels to tune the space for the different musical performance types” explained Brown.

The CSA building also includes classrooms, practice rooms, a choral room, band room, orchestra room, a piano lab and a high-technology recording studio.

Originally constructed in the 1920s as a single-story bank building, the existing structure of the CSJCL building interior was repurposed as an art gallery and its façade restored to reveal its original Spanish Baroque ornamentation. The facility houses the permanent collection of Japanese-American artist Mine Okubo and offers and exhibition gallery and research facility.

“Downtown Riverside has been reinvigorated with the completion of the Centennial Plaza. The LPA design team executed our vision to tie the arts and the culture of the city while providing an educational resource for the district. Students, faculty and community members are thrilled to enjoy and use the space.” Said Chris Carlson, Chief of Staff & Facilities Development at RCCD.

The integrated design teams incorporated sustainable elements with the use of sun-protected transparent materials which provides natural light. In addition to the reuse of the historical structure for CSJCL, the other two buildings (CAADO and CSA) are targeting LEED Silver certification.

The district’s commitment to the arts, culture and history through the vision of the Centennial Plaza will solidify downtown Riverside’s place as an urban center for activity, creativity and lifelong learning. The buildings provide inviting places and venues for students, residents, visitors and patrons.

About LPA Inc.

Founded in 1965, LPA has more than 330 employees with offices in San Antonio and Irvine, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose, California. The firm provides services in architecture, sustainability, planning, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering and graphics. With a proven commitment to integrated sustainable design, LPA designs facilities that span from K-12 schools, higher education facilities to corporate and civic establishments. More than 700 major design awards attest to LPA’s commitment to design excellence. For more information, visit

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