Architects: Steinberg Architects
- Photographs: Tim Griffith
Text description provided by the architects. As the first architectural structure of Crafton Hills College’s long-range master plan, the Learning Resource Center (LRC) project attracted staff participation at all levels, including the college president; executive director of facilities & planning; director of facilities; district program management consultant and vice president of academic affairs, as well as the Dean, relevant department heads, and campus specialties. The team explored how to connect existing resources to allow for campus and community interaction and expose students to various programs. Tutoring spaces and library resources were combined with multimedia training facilities to enable a broad range of teaching environments. The planning team worked closely together to discuss the client's goals and needs, and translate them into architecture. The result is a new peninsula connection for the campus where learning is showcased and social interaction among students and faculty is encouraged.
The design of the LRC provides the backdrop for a truly integrated learning experience. While the entry to similar facilities is often an uninviting, double-loaded corridor, the LRC is designed to feel welcoming and promote an active learning environment. Another key element was the relocation of the main campus data center to the LRC. While this was a short-term logistical challenge, it made the LRC more adaptable to future educational innovations in and the storage and distribution of academic information.
The LRC represents a new campus and community landmark that blends harmoniously with the distinctive architectural language of the campus designed by E. Stewart Williams. In doing so, the architectural team developed a vocabulary for all future buildings on campus -- sympathetic to the older campus, yet steadfastly unique. The surrounding context is addressed through a synergistic coupling of exterior and interior spaces with abundant visual and physical connections. The LRC features a 2,500 sq. ft. outdoor patio/plaza space with informal study and lounging areas that allow an expansive view of the surrounding landscape. Housing educational resources with adjacent outdoor environments provide opportunities for informal learning environments and chance encounters, leading to a stronger, more fulfilling educational experience.
The LRC provides a central location for all of the campus’ learning resources outside the classroom, including the library, the learning center for student tutoring, and the teaching and learning center for faculty. Its gallery, auditorium, and multipurpose room also serve as a magnet for campus and community programs. A variety of formal and informal learning environments enable users to study privately, in small groups, or in larger, more formal settings. The LRC hosts a broad range of community events, including: lectures, recitals, and guest speakers in the 100-seat auditorium; local arts program displays and shows in the art gallery; and, lectures, recitals, and meetings in the multipurpose room. The spatial distribution of program elements also provides unique flexibility for multi-faceted events utilizing the various spaces. For example, the outdoor patio might play host to a reception preceding a recital in the auditorium accompanied by an art exhibit or dining experience.
Though not a stipulated requirement for this project in terms of formal certification, sustainable practices were employed. The building has a management system for solar shading controls in the library space; a louvered façade along the westerly face of the building protects the library space from the harsh afternoon sun; and, the building exceeds Title 24 standards by approximately 25%, using energy efficient mechanical systems, glazing systems, and precast concrete architectural skin.
Moreover, the LRC is integrated into the hillside with patrons entering at the middle level of this three-story facility. Adjacent outdoor areas were created for students to work and interact. They were designed with ample shading from the desert heat for comfort throughout the day. Glazing was maximized to accommodate views to and from campus. Also, native drought tolerant species were introduced in recognition of the desert climate.