Activist Marcus Garvey once said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.” As the first permanent building on a newly established campus, Palomar College’s Fallbrook Education Center in Fallbrook, California sets a precedent for all future campus development. It was imperative to design with intention as to honor the deep history woven through the site and to give Palomar College Fallbrook its roots. Several Native American tribes thrive within the Fallbrook region and their history provides many of the contextual influences for the design of the new 80,000 square-foot building home to the college’s classrooms, labs, library, health center, administrative offices, and community center.

Inspired by Fallbrook’s indigenous people and their valued connection with nature, we “twisted” the traditional academic quadrangle model—four separate buildings around a central courtyard—into a circular design that emerges from the ground. A gradual incline from the ground to the building’s roof begins the emergence and symbolizes the connectedness to Mother Earth and welcomes students and the community to enjoy the surrounding land. The center is designed to be a regenerative, net zero building meant to renew and revitalize the environment. Optimized orientation and envelope components promote daylighting, natural ventilation, and minimize heat gain or loss, while the green roof enables the building to absorb and store heat energy and serve as a rainwater catchment system. Further linking the center to its history, tribal art influences the center’s design, including the geometric patterns of tribal baskets. Weaving textures are seen in the arrangements of facade panels and felt on interior wood finishes.

Construction is scheduled to begin in May 2020 with completion slated for October 2021.