A new student center at East Los Angeles College will consolidate dispersed departments into one high-performance, net zero-energy facility. 

Designed by HGA Architects and Engineers, the 136,000-square-foot Student Success Center will provide flexible learning environments that can be adapted over time as the school’s needs and programs evolve. The five-story structure will consolidate nine departments into flexible learning environments, including classrooms, offices, common areas, and reading and language labs. Modular classroom design will allow for re-arrangement of furniture configurations for different learning options and encourage collaborative student-faculty interaction for a variety of teaching styles, says HGA principal James Matson. 

“Creating flexible spaces that easily reconfigure for multiple uses and teaching modalities is an important component of the design, as needs and programs will evolve throughout the years,” says Matson. “Our design takes full advantage of the natural environment and will create a building that will not only encourage collaborative student-faculty interaction, but also set a benchmark for sustainability.”

The $55 million complex, slated for completion in late 2014, is designed to achieve LEED Gold certification. Utilizing the latest in 3D BIM technology and rapid prototyping, HGA conducted wind and daylight studies to create an ideal learning environment for the campus population. 

An open-air courtyard, which separates the faculty offices and classrooms into two distinct wings, will serve as the building’s main entrance and vertical circulation spine. Tutoring and learning labs will be located along the first and second levels. Additional features include both interior and exterior student collaboration spaces and an exterior stepped terrace that can double as an outdoor classroom and collaborative meeting area. 

Seventy percent of all classrooms and offices will be located within 25 feet of operable windows and incorporate both natural ventilation and daylighting. A second outdoor classroom atrium and third enclosed office atrium offer informal student gathering spaces while further reinforcing natural ventilation, daylighting, and visual connectivity between floors. 

The high-performance building design includes the use of high-efficiency mechanical systems, sustainable lighting technologies, solar shading and water-efficient landscaping. Other sustainable features include: 

• High-performance window glazing
• Future net-zero capability
• Radiant cooling
• High-efficiency lighting
• Solar shading
• Reduced plug loads
• Energy recovery wheel
• Low-emitting durable materials
• High-albedo roof
• Water-efficient landscaping