Chabot College in Hayward, California serves a diverse student body, many students have full-time jobs, speak English as a secondary language, or come from low-income families. Whether they are first-generation students or lifelong learners each student has unique educational needs and journeys. So, when Chabot College wanted to design a new Library and Learning Connection building, we proactively engaged students, faculty members and other stakeholders to understand these journeys. Inspired by this outreach, we developed a design that focused on visual clarity and transparency. The design thoughtfully intertwines academic resources, study and social spaces to soothe stigma around seeking help.

The four-story atrium provides an unobstructed visual connection through the building to the upper floors and spaces clustered around the atrium are branded for easy wayfinding. A café, library, learning resources, and variety of open and closed study spaces promote active student lifestyle and encourage social participation. Open floor plans, large windows, and glazed skylights flood the atrium with natural daylight and put learning on display. Like the indoor spaces, outdoor spaces also foster active learning. An amphitheater, attractive landscaping, tree canopies, mobile furnishing, and Wi-Fi and power access create flexible outdoor spaces to support a wide range of student activities. The exterior design maximizes natural daylight with careful placement of windows, exterior shades, and a louvered shading system to block hot summer sun angles and welcome winter sun angles. The material and color palette draws inspiration from the campus’s predominant pre-cast concrete construction and surrounding natural environment. Gold accents evoke the school’s color identity and provide space for branding opportunities while the warm gray and sandy colors reflect the local natural environment.

Studies have shown that student success increases when they have access to centralized resources, a visual connection to social activity, and feel a sense of belonging. By removing barriers and supporting the holistic student experience, the new center will become a hub for collaboration and success for future Chabot students. Construction on the new Library and Learning Connections building will begin in 2021.

*HMC Architects are designing the project in collaboration with Group 4 Architecture who are also architect of record.