West Valley College Cilker School of Art and Design

Saratoga, California

Classroom renovation transforms 1960s college building

Renovation of the existing 59,500-square-foot Applied Arts and Sciences Building modernized classrooms and technology infrastructure, improved spatial efficiencies and upgraded safety components to comply with current building code and ADA standards. Designers applied a restrained touch to restore the building to its original prominence while also creating a state-of-the-art, multidisciplinary learning facility.

Built as concrete post-and-beam supporting a precast waffle-slab roof, the 1960s single-story structure came with “good bones.” The design retains much of the exterior shell but replaced many solid walls with full-height windows. To compensate, engineers added concrete shear walls that buff up seismic resistance. The textured concrete remains exposed as part of the aesthetic and is complemented by lap shingle siding as a nod to the original façade.

Interior walls were completely gutted to make way for a floor plan that streamlines circulation and better organizes spatial adjacencies. Light fixtures and interior finishes vastly improve wayfinding. New skylights fill corridors with natural light and combine with glass-walled classrooms to transform the once-dark halls into bright, airy spaces.

High-profile interior spaces use warm-colored linear wood ceilings that contrast against the gray concrete structure. Other areas expose the existing waffle-slab roof as a reminder of the past. Accent walls in corridors are surfaced with reused redwood siding. These special display walls allow the students to show their work and inspire innovation among their peers.

The design retrofits the 50-year-old building with contemporary sustainable features. Increased window area lets in abundant natural light, which allows advanced lighting controls to reduce power demand. Individually zoned HVAC systems add to that efficiency. The project also uses FSC-certified wood and low-VOC paint. Landscaping features native, drought-tolerant plants, and stormwater is collected in a natural bioswale that runs the length of the south façade.

With a strong focus on student collaboration, the new Cilker School of Art and Design optimizes interdisciplinary opportunities for its programs in architecture and drafting technology, engineering, fashion design, interior design, paralegal, healthcare and park management. In addition, the building incorporates a child development and career center.

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