College of the Desert Communication Building

Client: Desert Community College District
Services Provided: Programming, Design, Construction Documents, Construction Administration
Project Location: Palm Desert, CA
Project Size: 39,880 sf
Completion Date: May 2013
Sustainability: LEED SILVER Goal, Savings By Design
Program: 8 General Classrooms, 18 Interdisciplinary Labs, 26 Faculty Offices, 2 Adjunct Faculty Rooms, Work & Copy Room, Communication Division Office including Dean Office, Clerical Spaces, 2 Meeting/Conference Rooms, Support Spaces

The new Communication Building at College of the Desert is a 40,000 s.f. classroom and faculty office building designed to frame views and protect the users from the harsh climate. The building completes the newly revised campus gateway by framing views to the heart of the campus the Hilb Library.  Classroom and office activities are revealed to passersby to promote academic study areas provided by the College. The complex also frames views from the campus to the adjacent rugged Santa Rosa Mountains.

Envisioned as promoting the academic focus of the College, the multi-functional classroom and lab areas provide flexible space to support changing teaching modalities. Evolving student needs are met by providing the ability to access technology anywhere in the building and by providing many different types of gathering spaces especially adjacent to staff office areas to encourage student and staff interaction. The various spaces are intended to allow students to find respite from the sometimes harsh climate.

With a goal of achieving LEED GOLD, this energy efficient building is a formula for a hot arid climate. Deep overhangs and sunscreens allow well placed windows to temper the amazing light and while protecting the exterior walls from direct heat gain. Recycled materials utilized on the interior and structure, efficient mechanical systems, sola-tubes and high efficiency lighting all contributed to achieving a high level of energy efficiency. The use of indigenous materials of the area on the exterior such as natural stone, smooth plaster and metal panels were chosen to reinforce and continue the local Palm Springs Modern architectural heritage espoused by original campus architect’s Albert Frye and Williams and Williams.