Los Angeles Valley College Completes New Student Center Designed by LPA Inc.

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The 41,000-square-foot Monarch Student Center provides a new home for students, faculty and staff with sustainable solutions.

Los Angeles, College, Student Center, Sustainable Design

Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) recently completed its new 66,000-square-foot, two-story Monarch Student Center designed by LPA Inc.

From the initial concept, the design of the building has always stood out and impressed the district.

Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC) recently completed its new 41,000-square-foot, two-story Monarch Student Center designed by LPA Inc., one of California’s largest sustainable design firms.

As a commuter campus, LAVC’s goal for the project was to create a home for the campus and provide a wide range of spaces to maximize opportunities for interaction in order to keep students on campus.

Located at the heart of the college, the Monarch Center includes a bookstore, dining hall, student health center and student lounge, and provides a place for students to call home.

“The Monarch Center creates an identity and focus on campus while engaging the students in the sustainable attributes of the space and providing a unique place for different personalities,” said Steve Flanagan, Principal at LPA.

A 1,000-car parking structure is also located adjacent to the Monarch Center with stairs and exits leading visitors directly past the bookstore to the plaza. The central plaza space is covered by a large “solar umbrella” butterfly roof that provides shade in the Southern California summer days while sheltering from the rain and collecting rainwater in the winter months. The prominent 20,000-square-foot, sloping canopy towers 41 feet above the ground at its highest point. This iconic feature enables students to take their activities or events outside year-round.

Clad in bright yellow metal panels (the college’s identity color), the Student Union wing is elevated off the ground to allow the space, landscape and views to flow underneath it. The “skybox” includes student meeting spaces, administration, a board room, a gaming room, several lounging areas and protected exterior decks.

“We wanted to provide visual continuity and pedestrian access between the student plaza and the adjacent campus mall so we elevated the student union into a ‘skybox,’ allowing us to improve wayfinding while offering a shaded social space underneath the elevated mass,” added Franco Brown, Design Director at LPA.

LPA’s integrated design team included architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, engineering and lighting design. A full-scope of services allowed the project to collaboratively include sustainable design elements to meet the LEED Silver standards in which the project is on track to receive.

The landscape design for the center draws its inspiration from the nearby creek featured in the existing campus master plan. Native and drought-tolerant plant materials are featured with natural boulders and cobble to polish stormwater. The creek flows under the elevated portion of the building in a seamless integration between outdoor and indoor spaces.

The use of glass throughout the project maximizes natural daylight, thus reducing energy costs. From skylights to operable glass walls, the blending of interior and exterior spaces encourages the use of natural ventilation with exterior views throughout 90 percent of the space. Additionally, the building exceeds Title 24 standards by 30 percent and has a 30 percent water use savings.

Inside the center, flexible furniture is seen throughout the space to give students a variety of options. Tammy Miller, Project Designer at LPA, said, “The challenge and fun was achieving the varying aesthetic and functional needs in each space while maintaining an overall consistency throughout the building.” The center includes spaces both indoors and outdoors for students to eat, study or relax in between classes.

Mark Strauss, College Project Director at Los Angeles Community College District, said, “From the initial concept, the design of the building has always stood out and impressed the district. Now that the building is occupied, the district is able to experience the individual design features that make this a great building.”

About LPA Inc.
Founded in 1965, LPA has more than 350 employees with offices in San Antonio and Irvine, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose, California. The firm provides services in architecture, sustainability, planning, interior design, landscape architecture, engineering and graphics. With a proven commitment to integrated sustainable design, LPA designs facilities that span from K-12 schools, colleges and universities to corporate, healthcare and civic establishments. More than 700 major design awards attest to LPA’s commitment to design excellence. For more information, visit http://www.lpainc.com.

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LPA Inc.
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