The new West Valley Campus at College of the Desert in Palm Springs, Calif., will establish new benchmarks for integrating sustainable design and high-performance building technologies into curriculum.
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 the Desert Energy Enterprise Center (DEEC) that engages students in the engineering of solar panels and wind turbines.
The 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; 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.
The architecture reflects Palm Springs’ Mid-century 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.
The architect is researching integrated systems to improve building performance, including facades that minimize heat gain, energy-efficient mechanical systems, photovoltaic solar panels, storm-water reservoirs for evaporative cooling, shading and daylighting techniques, wind protection and desert landscaping with seasonal plantings.