Ratcliff Architecture News

Filippi Academic Hall Opens at Saint Mary's College of California: RATCLIFF Designs State-of-the-Art Classroom Facility to Train Future Generation of Teachers - March 18, 2008

RATCLIFF, the architectural, planning and interiors firm, announces the formal completion of the two-story, 36,671-square-foot Filippi Academic Hall which houses the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California. Located prominently along the campus loop road, the exterior of Filippi Academic Hall maintains the architectural integrity of the campus’ distinctive Spanish Colonial style, while state-of-the-art technology and design are incorporated throughout the building’s interior to create the College’s most innovative teaching environment. The steel frame building with stucco exterior, terra cotta tile roof, and ornamental ironwork is used to develop instructional and therapeutic skills for pre-service and in-service teachers, counselors, and administrators.

“It is a highlight for our college to have this new hall dedicated to the mission of our founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, who started the first teacher training college in France,” said Brother Stan Sobcyzk, FSC, vice president for advancement at Saint Mary’s College. “Filippi Hall successfully incorporates a great deal of exterior elements from the original structures built here in 1928 and the woodwork interiors add warmth and distinction. It is wonderful to have faculty offices to provide one-on-one attention to our student population.”

Teaching is at the heart of the College’s Lasallian mission and the Kalmanovitz School of Education benefits the entire region by providing teachers with quality training. The School anticipates increased enrollment due to the addition of Filippi Academic Hall, which houses eight classrooms in different configurations, including Montessori, general, and seminar rooms. Observation rooms, which incorporate two-way mirrors, are used by the Psychology Department and the Reading Recovery Program, where graduate students unobtrusively observe how an instructor teaches a child how to read. The modern testing center includes one 18-seat testing room, two mid-size computer testing rooms, two individual testing rooms, and a tutoring center. The computer lab has 30 student workstations.

Advanced technology tools such as wireless Internet and built-in ceiling projectors in every classroom aid the delivery of academic content. RATCLIFF achieved energy efficiency throughout Filippi Academic Hall by incorporating intelligent building controls for heating/cooling systems and lighting.

Upstairs, the Kalmanovitz School of Education shares administrative space with some faculty members from the School of Liberal Arts, including offices and an elegant conference room with a breathtaking view of the surrounding hillsides. “Breakout rooms” for informal student-faculty meetings or group project work, first made popular on campus in the RATCLIFF-designed Brother Alfred Brousseau Hall, are interspersed between the faculty offices. Outdoors, the U-shaped building creates a courtyard with benches and a large oak tree at the center of the space where students can gather and socialize. 

“Students and faculty are enthusiastic about the new space and it shows in their utilization of the building’s amenities. Our breakout and conference rooms are in constant use and the observation rooms are wonderful teaching spaces being incorporated in the curriculum just as planned,” said Nancy Sorenson, dean of the Kalmanovitz School of Education.

Founded in 1863 by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, Saint Mary’s College of California is one of the oldest colleges in the West. The college is administered by the Christian Brothers and relocated from Oakland to Moraga in 1928. Since it was established in 1967, the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College has educated thousands of students who have received teaching credentials, master’s degrees, and doctorates.