The Riverside County Office of Education (RCOE) broke ground on the new Riverside Conference Center (RCC) in Riverside, California. HMC’s Julie Strauss and Andrew Thompson, Riverside Superintendent of Schools Dr. Judy White, Board of Education President Bruce Dennis, and our contractor partners Tilden Coil attended the event.
Inspired by the surrounding region and context, the 130,000 SF, four-story RCC is designed to relieve overcrowding at RCOE’s existing facility and provide 200 additional parking spaces for employees and public use. The flexible design considers both indoor and outdoor use and features a ground-floor café to service the conference center and outdoor events. Parking levels are sandwiched between the programmed uses, maximizing the allowable building height and taking advantage of the incredible vistas towards the adjacent mountain range. The design approach anchors the building to the corner of Thirteenth and Chestnut Streets with retail space at the street level. In the future, RCOE plans to close Chestnut Street to vehicular traffic to form a more cohesive campus-like environment to provide more services to the community. The current pandemic has shown how crucial leadership training is in making a difference in the safety of our campuses and students. In response, the center’s main meeting room, with space for 400 occupants, allows RCOE to host regional events and critical training for school district leadership, administrators and teachers. Construction on the RCC will be complete in Winter 2022.
The project breaks ground at a time when HMC is engaged in an ongoing investigative research effort to better understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 and develop solutions for a safe return to schools. The firm in August released a COVID-19 Campus Reboot Guide for PreK-12 schools after consulting with clients from various school districts and county offices of education, conducting surveys with parents, and doing a deep dive literature review on building design and infectious disease transmission/prevention. In addition to the Campus Reboot Guide, HMC is committed to sharing all of its research findings with the industry in a series of white papers that focus on five main areas of Technology, Adaptability and Flexibility, Regulatory/Budgetary/Institutional Impacts, Space Needs/Reduction and Restructuring, and Impact to Wellness/Mental Health as they relate to the PreK-12 and higher education markets. Given the constantly changing conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic, evolving knowledge about the disease, and shifting directives from governmental agencies, it’s HMC’s hope that the guide and white papers offer some clarity for educators.