The Association for Learning Environments’ (A4LE) Southern California chapter recognized two HMC-designed projects, Antelope Valley College’s Sage Hall and Bakersfield College’s Science and Engineering Building, with Awards of Merit in the chapter’s 2023 Award of Excellence program.

Antelope Valley College’s Sage Hall

AVC is a critical educational resource in a region with higher-than-average poverty and unemployment rates. Sage Hall plays an important part in the college’s mission, providing a friendly, helpful environment for learning with a mission of removing obstacles to success and giving students the tools they need to thrive. At its heart, AVC’s Sage Hall provides students with a supportive, collaborative space where a diverse community of learners can discover, develop, and stay on track, reducing drop-out rates and leading to success. The design team worked closely with the dean of rhetoric and literacy in a series of workshops, from the broad strokes of programming and site planning to focused meetings on furniture. At each step, the dean was a tireless advocate for the college’s new vision, helping the design team liberate the users to see new possibilities. Key goals drove our design: remove the stigma of seeking help, make the Academic Commons visible and easily accessible, and design diverse environments to support both students and faculty and improve their experience.

Bakersfield College Science and Engineering Building
Bakersfield College’s stunning $40 million, 70,000 SF, three-story new Science and Engineering Building is a game-changer for science and engineering students. The design reimagines the courtyard building typical of the Bakersfield campus into a vertical atrium, a beacon for scientific observation, discovery, and learning. The design-build team of Bernards and HMC Architects designed the facility as a place to see things differently and explore innovative ideas. Soundproof wall panels, an abstract tree art installation, and asymmetrical window placements encourage curiosity and exploration. The open and vertical atrium maximizes the narrow site with simple lines reminiscent of the original mid-century modern campus buildings. Stadium seating in the lobby allows students to study or watch a presentation, whiteboards throughout the building encourage collaboration, and the open atrium puts learning on display. Supported by the Bakersfield community and funded by Measure J, the new facility demonstrates the college’s growth and commitment to future STEM leaders.

A4LE is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the places where children learn. The annual awards program celebrates the projects that have transformed learning environments for students in Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura Counties. Learn more and see the full list of winners on A4LE’s website.