A community college that has provided educational programs to eastern San Diego County since 1978, Cuyamaca College’s mission is to connect community with educational opportunities. Yet, the El Cajon, Calif. school lacked a clear, distinct entry point into the heart of campus. We’re changing that as we set out to redefine the Student Services and Administration (SSA) Complex as the college’s new welcoming point—and providing a bridge between the new curbside drop off plaza, and the heart of the campus.

In addition to adding 35,000-SF of new buildings, the project also consists of renovating adjacent spaces and redesigning the college’s central green space. We emphasized connectivity to three elements – the surrounding community, the existing campus, and between students and available services and opportunities. We designed a campus gateway that lets visitors experience a “threshold” moment. This promotes outreach and provides a clear, efficient, and welcoming access point to the services and opportunities available for students.  We embraced and enhanced existing buildings and landscaping, seamlessly and cohesively connecting the project to the campus. To preserve the existing green spaces on campus, we created ADA accessible pathways and rooftop gardens on top of the new buildings. Energy use will be drastically reduced with sustainable design strategies such as daylighting and solar control, and a solar energy ready roof structure gives the building and the campus the opportunity to move towards a net zero outcome. The project is in design development and is slated to open in 2020.