Text description provided by the architects. The new Allied Health Sciences building is located at the Higher Education Center (HEC) in National City, CA, a satellite campus to Southwestern College in Chula Vista, CA. The new 22,500 SF facility includes classrooms and labs in support of the college’s health sciences program, dedicating space specifically to areas of biology, chemistry, microbiology and anatomy, as well as laboratory training within the Medical Laboratory Technician program. Administration and faculty offices are also housed in the new facility, along with a regional Business Development Center focusing on small and emerging businesses in the area. Students in the healthcare program will also now benefit from a storefront community clinic located in the new building as a means to fulfill their required hours as healthcare assistants-in-training.
The new science facility accommodates 250% more students than the previous facility — approximately 500 more students per semester. The L-shaped building surrounds a new courtyard and lawn, creating a compact version of a traditional college quadrangle. The space provides tranquility and refuge for students, faculty members, staff, and the community, serving as a place to enhance college life outside the classroom. An additional community room at the ground floor between the new building and an existing building is entirely transparent, providing views from the street into this new quadrangle at the heart of the site. Classrooms and labs are connected by a covered outdoor passage that faces out onto the quadrangle.
The architects drew inspiration from the fortified bases of urban buildings in the prewar American Beaux Arts tradition. The building façade is a wall of marble-print porcelain tile arranged in a large, over-scaled bond pattern, creating the appearance of enormous stone blocks separated by large gaps; though they may read like joints without mortar, the gaps are actually windows of the science labs and classrooms. Likewise, the façade is not made of thick stone as the illusion implies, but rather two-inch-thick screens extending out from the building’s core, functioning as a sun-shading device for the glass curtain walls beneath the tiled blocks.