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West Valley Campus at College of the Desert

HGA Architects and Engineers

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dmadsen, hanley wood, llc

Project Name

West Valley Campus at College of the Desert


50,000 sq. feet


College of the Desert


  • o2 Architecture
  • Landscape Architect: RGA Landscape Architects
  • Structural Engineer: Saiful/Bouquet
  • : M-E Engineers
  • Civil Engineer: MSA Consulting
  • Construction Manager: Sundt Construction
  • EIS Professionals
  • Electrical Engineer: M-E Engineers
  • Plumbing Engineer: M-E Engineers

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Project Description


HGA Architects and Engineers (HGA) has completed the design for phase one of the new West Valley Campus at College of the Desert in Palm Springs, Calif., -- a project that sets new benchmarks for integrating sustainable design and high-performance building technologies into the academic curriculum.
“The College of the Desert’s vision for a self-sustaining campus is to produce more energy than it consumes,” said James Matson, AIA, vice president and director of HGA’s Los Angeles office. “The plan emphasizes energy production along with substantial conservation and energy efficiency, waste recovery and biomimicry in partnership with green industries and educational initiatives. The campus will consider the site’s unique ecology and natural resources to create a national model for sustainable research and teaching that supports the local economy and educational needs in the Coachella Valley.”
The project will include 50,000 square-feet of academic space occupying several buildings clustered around a shaded courtyard. When complete in January 2015, this phase will include basic skills labs, culinary arts and a Desert Energy Enterprise Center (DEEC) that engages students in the engineering of solar panels and wind turbines. Currently at DSA for approval, the construction of the site work will begin in July, 2013.
“The overall design vision for this project is focused on making it a national model for innovate sustainable strategies,” said Satoshi Teshima, AIA, LEED AP, project designer. “The result will be an iconic campus that not only serves as a landmark and gateway to Palm Springs, but reflects the city’s history of mid-century modern architecture.”
HGA is directing the master planning, programming, design and sustainability of the campus, which will become a national model for innovative sustainable strategies.

Master Plan
Located at the northwest corner of Indian Canyon Drive and Tramview Road, approximately ½-hour drive from the Palm Desert Campus, the new community college campus will serve as gateway to the City of Palm Springs. The 119-acre campus includes a 59-acre tabular rasa academic campus designed by HGA; and a planned adjacent 60-acre “GreenPark” solar farm, which the college will lease to a third party to provide clean energy to Coachella Valley and a revenue source for the campus.
HGA’s master plan identifies building orientation, campus circulation and growth over seven phases. The U-shaped academic campus wraps around the existing James O. Jessie Desert Highland Unity Center, integrating community activity into the campus. The master plan aligns with the college’s four educational “pillars” to promote business partnerships—Hospitality & Tourism, Media & the Arts, Allied Health, and Sustainability Technology. The campus includes 420,000 square feet of academic space and 230,000 square feet of leasable Public-Private Venture (PPV) space, which will serve as both academic buildings and incubator space for start-ups.
“The Research & Development facilities and Business Incubator programs will help generate revenue streams and offer real-world applications of state-of-the-art technologies and methodologies implemented in the college’s academic curriculum,” Matson added.

Design Details
The architecture reflects Palm Springs’ midcentury-modern style while integrating ecological opportunities of the desert landscape through biomimicry, which incorporates sustainable processes from nature into the campus plan and architectural systems. The master plan addresses sun, shade, wind and biomimicry along an Arroyo, or dry riverbed, that winds through campus as the main organizing element. HGA is researching and testing integrated systems to improve building performance, including façades that minimize heat gain, energy-efficient mechanical systems, photovoltaic solar panels, storm-water reservoirs for evaporative cooling, shading and day lighting techniques, wind protection and desert landscaping with seasonal plantings.
“This project has forward-thinking goals that go beyond Net Zero Energy to embrace a Zero-Plus plan that creates renewable clean energy rather than simply uses less energy,” said Patrick Thibaudeau, LEED AP, vice president of sustainable design at HGA. “The Zero-Plus plan targets five integrated sustainable goals—Zero-Plus energy, carbon, water, waste and materials. The plan emphasizes on-site electricity production through photovoltaic solar panels and establishes consumption targets to be less than or equal to available resources. As an educational model, the West Valley Campus is an opportunity to integrate local ecology, create innovative learning opportunities for students and bring together public agencies, the college and private industry to explore new approaches to sustainability.”
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