Program: A two-story, 110,000-square-foot academic and administration building at Fresno City College, with classrooms, an auditorium, flexible community space, and offices for faculty and administrators. Organized like a pair of boxes, the Spanish Renaissance building features arcaded loggias that surround two adjacent courtyards. Though the structure, completed in 1916, is on the National Register of Historic Places, it closed in 1976 when new seismic regulations took effect for California's community colleges.
Design concept and solution: The architects needed to restore and modernize the building, which had been subjected to decay and weather damage in the 30-plus years since it closed. They refurbished the Roman brick on the exterior and restored the orange tile accents laid into the brickwork. On the roof, they removed the original clay tiles, reinforced the wood roof trusses and replaced damaged wood before reinstalling the roof tiles. The architects' strategy was to conceal the structural upgrades behind interior finishes; for example, shotcrete, installed behind most of the brick exterior walls, is hidden by interior plaster walls and wood paneling. ELS preserved the building's layout but inserted restrooms and service spaces, burying the new plumbing, sprinklers, and electrical infrastructure in wall cavities and attics. The classrooms and offices retained their high ceilings, original wood windows, and strip maple floors. The architects restored the floors but, to help the community college save money, coated them with an extra (and ultimately reversible) finish that simplifies maintenance.
Completion Date: January 2011
Total construction cost: $39.2 million
State Center Community College District
ELS Architecture and Urban Design
2040 Addison Street
Berkeley, CA 94704
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Architect of record: ELS Architecture and Urban Design
Associate architect: Edwin S. Darden Associates, Inc. (programming & specifications)
Interior designer: ELS Architecture and Urban Design
Engineer(s): Structural: A.T. Merovich & Associates, Inc.; Mechanical & Plumbing: Lawrence Nye Anderson; Electrical: The Engineering Enterprise; Civil: Blair, Church & Flynn.
Photographer: David Wakely, 415.861.7503,
Renderer(s) and credit as they should appear:
CAD system, project management, or other software used: Autocad
Masonry: Sullivan Masonry & Restoration (brick and cast stone restoration), San Francisco, CA
Elastomeric: GACO LM-60
Wood: Wooden Window, Inc., Oakland, CADoors
Wood doors: Restored – Wooden Window, Inc., Oakland, CAHardware
Acoustical ceilings: Hunter Douglas-Techstyle; Wall Technology, Inc.-Eurospan
Fixed seating: Somerset Studios (restored theatre seating)Lighting
Historic interior lighting: Borden Lighting, San Leandro, CA
Accessibility provision (lifts, ramping, etc.): McKinley Elevator (lift)