Architects: Steinberg Hart: Steinberg Architects
Photographs: Tim Griffith
Bellarmine College Preparatory is located in the historic College Park neighborhood of San José. Operating in this location since 1925, the campus has long been a focal point for the community. During the master plan design phase, the school held meetings with the neighborhood association and other local stakeholders to ensure that the new projects fit into the local context.
The Sobrato Center for Humanities and the Arts will be the tallest building on campus, so to alleviate neighbors’ concern about building heights, it was located in the least visible portion of the site to help retain the one- and two-story character of the neighborhood. Of additional concern was the control of student pick-up and drop-off in the neighborhood, so the building was positioned to help funnel students to specific points, and limit automobile traffic for adjacent properties.
A robust technology infrastructure was incorporated into the building to meet changing educational needs. The building is completely covered by both hard-wired and wireless networks. Each classroom and lab space is equipped with smart podiums to allow for individual teaching styles. The theater control room offers full broadcast and recording capabilities that can be used for lectures, presentations, and movies. The digital production studio (green screen room) is used to broadcast information and news on the campus website. The radio broadcast room is used for teaching via the campus radio station. The $30 million facility’s 440-seat theater provides the campus with a venue appropriate for learning opportunities from multiple disciplines.
The Sobrato Center’s design was directly influenced by existing campus structures. The use of a plinth at the front entry and the soffit/floor lines relate directly to the adjacent Liccardo Center. The exterior circulation on the academic wing is reminiscent of the Carney Science Center located diagonally across the campus quadrangle. The use of smooth plaster and color also helps integrate the building into the campus. The building is pending LEED Silver certification.
Three campus groups contributed to the planning and development of the Sobrato Center:
1. Physical Resources Committee, made up of volunteer members who provide strategic construction/development guidance to the President and Executive Committee regarding all improvements proposed on campus. A majority of these members also sit on the Board of Regents and are active donors to the school.
2. Executive Committee, made up of the President, CFO, Principal, Vice Principal, and Vice President for Advancement. This group provided essential input regarding campus space-planning needs, aesthetics, and site-planning issues.
3. Users: A comprehensive programming phase gathered input from key faculty members from the Drama and Arts departments and Information Technology. This group was led by the Principal, and they prepared a detailed building program, with room data sheets, adjacency diagrams, and finishes, furniture, and equipment needs.