Grossmont Cuyamaca Community College District and Cuyamaca College celebrated the opening of their new HMC-designed student services building. The HMC design team, district representatives, school faculty and staff, and community leaders gathered to celebrate the new 40,000 SF three-story Student Center, renovation of the adjacent Student Center, and significant redevelopment of the entire central campus green and main entrance to the campus.

Cuyamaca College in Rancho San Diego, California, has a beautiful hillside campus with a lush and iconic central campus green space but needed a clear front door to the campus, and space for expansion was limited. Making access to services and support as easy as possible for the school’s 8,000 students was a driving concept of the design. Built into the slope of this hillside campus, the building is accessible from multiple levels. The entire circulation scheme is driven by the desire to create a seamless service experience while maximizing connection with the landscape. Engagement begins at the new arrival plaza, where visitors are greeted by the new welcome center and can access all levels of the building, including the rooftop garden, by dramatically cantilevered walkways and a monument stair hanging over the plaza below. Accessible indoor and outdoor spaces lead from admissions and financial aid on the first level, up through enrolled student support on the second level to the renovated Student Center, and upward with a new ADA path of travel to the top of the renovated central green space.

The building minimizes encroachment onto the central green and maximizes the outdoor environment on campus. Various building and landscape features seek to curtail the impacts of adding these facilities to campus. Carefully oriented shading devices, innovative HVAC approaches, exterior circulation to decrease conditioned volume, a vegetated roof and bioretention basins, and a high-performance envelope all go above and beyond to decrease environmental and operating costs. The team also planted 96 trees to enhance the surrounding outdoor environment.

The new building puts students at the center, fosters community, and provides a centralized hub of services at the center of campus. Campus officials describe this new center as an incredible new entrance and centerpiece.