El Camino College Center for Applied Technology (Shops Building)

Client: El Camino Community College District
Services Provided: Programming, Design, Construction Documents
Project Location: Torrance, CA
Project Size: 44,389 sf
Completion Date: February 2015
Sustainability: Savings By Design 
Program: Instructional Technology programs, supported by 4 Technology labs, 2 shared Classrooms, large Tool Room, 5 shared Faculty Offices, Supervisor’s Office, Conference Room, Display/Lobby, Building Infrastructure Rooms, Campus Emergency Preparedness Building

The new Center for Applied Technology (Shops Replacement Building) relocates Vocational Technology programs to a strategic location in order to implement the Campus Facilities Master Plan. It is designed as an efficient complex consisting of the main building, working yards, and outbuildings. The facility is the home of Automotive Technology;  Automotive Collision and Repair; Welding Technology; and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration programs. Instruction is housed in a sustainable, professional environment with flexible learning technology, natural daylighting, up-to-date safety designs, and usable indoor-outdoor spaces. The replacement project is funded by the College’s 2002 Measure E facilities bond.

The primary goal for the building’s design was to shift the traditional shops model to a new model where: dirty messy grease-filled shops became clean organized and pristine; the gender centric environment became equal and integrated; individual work became teamwork; disciplinary became interdisciplinary; college generated instruction became college/partnership instruction; dark and noisy became light-filled and acoustically appropriate; inwardly focused and hidden away became visible accessible and expressive.

The building being located on the edge of campus has two faces: one toward campus and one toward the community. The campus face provides an event space that punctuates a prominent east-west campus walkway connecting the major parking structure to the campus. The lobby which is located along the pathway reveals the best ideas and events that occur in the building. The community face hides the auto and welding yards that occur along that elevation and focuses the eye upon soaring light monitors that make the lab spaces feel as if they are outside. The two entries, central lobby and circulation route are linked by a blue “street” (El Camino blue). The Street provides easy way-finding for students and staff and a method of forcing a vocational convergence.  Each disparate vocational world is now mixes on a single pathway with casual student interaction spaces to encourage interdisciplinary thinking.