New College Of The Desert Visual Arts Building Breaks Ground In California

Posted by Heidi Schwartz

The latest project from architecture and design firm Perkins+Will recently broke ground. The new Visual Arts Building at College of the Desert in Palm Desert, CA will be an anchor for a re-conceived Arts District and will tie in the arts facility with the rest of the academic community. The plan includes indoor and outdoor classrooms and labs, a multipurpose room for interdisciplinary classes, lectures, and exhibits as well as dedicated exhibit space.

The new facility is located at the transition between the campus’s arts district and the core campus. This juxtaposition will facilitate the college’s wishes of integrating the arts program with core curriculum studies.

“The new Visual Arts Building was conceived as a celebratory representation of the newly defined arts district, and will provide a portal into the art making process,” said Darren Adkisson, Senior Project Designer for Perkins+Will Los Angeles.

The strong desert sun drove the design of the building’s most prominent feature. An aluminum perforated screen will wrap around the edge of the projecting roof creating a canopy that provides shade on four sides. As a passive cooling measure, it will greatly increase the building’s energy performance. While the canopy maximizes shading to the south and west exposures, the rooftop skylights take advantage of the softer northern light which floods classrooms with natural daylight. The concrete and stucco exterior facade underneath the screen will provide a color palette that compliments the desert and fits into the natural landscape of this 1960s campus.

In addition to these elements, designers wanted to create a sense of connection–both within the facility itself as well as with the rest of the campus. To that end, the multi-purpose room and main building will have entrances directly across from one another, allowing easy access to various spaces within the facility and campus. All of these thoughtful design elements are intended to establish a strong sense of place among the entire College of the Desert campus.

The project is slated for completion in February 2014, and is expected to be certified LEED Gold.