The Association for Learning Environments’ (A4LE) Southern California chapter recognized two HMC-designed projects, Cal Poly Pomona Student Housing and Dining Commons and Portola High School, with Awards of Merit in the chapter’s 2021 Award of Excellence program.

Cal Poly Pomona Student Housing and Dining Commons

One of the biggest drawbacks of a school where many freshmen commute is the struggle to socialize. So, when HMC envisaged a new design for Cal Poly Pomona, our team had a key underlying objective: Create intimate environments that keep students on campus and encourage them to feel part of a community. Cal Poly’s new residential towers and dining commons serve as a highly visible entry point—transforming the campus into a modern-living cosmopolitan populace. The two mid-rise student housing buildings interlace shared social spaces, natural light, and open-air connections throughout the entire eight floors of each structure. Every nook and in-between space is designed for informal inhabitation where students can interact and make life-long connections. Warm materials, residential lighting, and large communal tables resonate with the warmth of home for students in the new 650-seat dining commons located at the campus entrance and gateway to the housing community. The collaborative design-build team consisted of HMC (executive architect and housing design architect), EYRC Architects (dining commons architect), and Sundt Construction. 

Portola High School

Surrounded by regional history and inspired by local geography, Portola High School in Irvine, California, is a twenty-first-century school where learning happens everywhere. With flexible open spaces, collaboration zones, and science and innovation labs, it looks and feels more like a college campus than a high school. The site rests on the edge of a new planned development surrounding the Great Park, formerly the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. Classroom buildings are clustered to promote cross-collaboration between students, teachers, and different disciplines, with second-floor walkways connecting the learning clusters. By identifying multiple uses for spaces, HMC reduced the number of rooms built. This cost savings enabled the district to add a performing arts building with a 700-seat theater, aquatic center, and stadium in the initial construction phase rather than subsequent phases, which is more typical.

A4LE is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the places where children learn. The chapter includes the counties of Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. The annual awards program celebrates the region’s projects that have transformed learning environments for students. Learn more at A4LE’s website.