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RATCLIFF Designs Two New Major Additions for Foothill-De Anza Community College. Architectural Firm Wins Statewide Recognition for Both Projects - February 4, 2010


RATCLIFF, the architectural, planning and interiors firm, is leading the design of two major additions for the Foothill-De Anza Community College. At De Anza College in Cupertino, the architects are designing a two-story, 65,000-square-foot Mediated Learning Center, and at Foothill College in Los Altos, they are designing a 56,000-square-foot multi-pod Physical Science village. The Mediated Learning Center is designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) ® Platinum rating, while the Physical Science Center is designed to earn a LEED Silver rating.

RATCLIFF won a 2009 Community College Facility Coalition Award of Merit for the Project in Design category for the Foothill College Physical Sciences and Engineering Center. Additionally, the Division of the State Architect (DSA) made a presentation on De Anza College’s Mediated Learning Center, as it is the first Northern California DSA-approved project with a new seismic bracing system called Buckling Restrained Braces. These types of braces act as shock absorbers during an earthquake and represent advancements in the field of seismic construction, performing better than typical bracing systems. All new structures complement the existing campus plans and are being funded by proceeds from Measure C.

The scope of the Foothill Community College project encompasses three separate buildings that house the Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, and Nanotechnology departments. The Classroom building includes six 45-seat classrooms and two 72-seat lecture rooms, while the Laboratory building holds four chemistry laboratories, three physics laboratories, and two multipurpose laboratories to be shared by the Chemistry and Engineering departments. The lab building also has a suite for nanotechnology and materials engineering instruction. The Commons building includes a faculty conference room and a student lounge with coffee shop. Six “breakout rooms” for informal student-faculty meetings or group project work and a student testing center are located adjacent to the 16 faculty offices. An outdoor Court and Lower Plaza are designed with displays and outdoor seating to promote the sciences and provide varied opportunities for social interaction.

The Physical Sciences and Engineering Center is a major expansion to an historic and architecturally significant campus dating to 1961. The project posed a number of challenges, from accommodating a demanding program within constraints of site and budget to working within the fabric of the historic campus plan while creating a new state-of-the-art learning environment for science and engineering. The proposed solution incorporates elements of the old campus with new technology, new materials and a new twist on the historical architectural expression, balancing concerns of both advocates of the traditional and proponents of the modern.

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“Despite the fact that a growing number of college courses are being offered online, the Foothill-De Anza district is investing in the Physical Sciences structure because it recognizes that students learn science better in a face-to-face environment,” said Bill Blessing, LEED®, RATCLIFF Associate Principal and designer of the new Foothill College buildings.