The building is an educational icon for Chinatown and downtown San Francisco.Photo by: Jeremy Bittermann
San Francisco—Open, dynamic and transparent, the new City College of San Francisco Chinatown North Beach campus is the result of more than 30 years of grass-roots activism and reflects college’s goal to provide a model for higher education. “As one of the largest community and junior colleges in the country, CCSF’s impact extends beyond the greater Bay Area, so it was an honor for EHDD to be involved in this project. CCSF serves a diverse population, and our design team created an inclusive community for teaching and learning in a traditionally underserved neighborhood,” states EHDD principal in charge Jennifer K. Devlin-Herbert, FAIA LEED® AP.
Situated at the intersection of Chinatown and North Beach and bordering the Financial and historic Jackson Square districts, the “vertical campus” rises 14 stories and provides 39 classrooms and laboratories, administrative offices, library and a community room which opens up into a terrace overlooking Portsmouth Square. (A 4-story annex houses the culinary program which includes a teaching kitchen, a community auditorium, four classrooms and a public café.) The design process required more than 10 years of stakeholder buy-in from wide ranging interests such as the San Francisco community, historic preservationists, and educators. Darlene Jang, principal at Barcelon + Jang with whom EHDD joint ventured on the project states, “We created an anchor for the community, while providing the college with a campus to support its 21st century teaching requirements.”
Construction for the 194,000 square foot campus began in 2008 and is the tallest concrete structure to go through the rigorous plan checking process required by the Division of the State Architect (DSA), while also employing sustainable design and construction practices. “The diverse programming and complexity of the new Chinatown North Beach Campus required a high degree of teamwork. It is a fantastic example of successful team collaboration,” says Bruce Berardi, General Manager of Lend Lease California. Taking full advantage of its urban site, the campus is located within close proximity to an extensive public transportation network. Bike racks and showers are provided as an additional option for urban commuters. Slated for LEED Gold certification, the building creates a transparency that makes clear to passersby the building’s academic purpose. In homage to the waves of migrations which shaped the neighborhood, the building’s façade features a photograph of a young immigrant girl, printed on glass. EHDD’s Ms. Devlin-Herbert explains, “This design gesture is powerful on many levels. This campus is a place where new immigrants can start their new lives and where those needing new skills to succeed in a global economy can continue their journey.”