College parking structure has grand ambitions

By the end of 2012, Moreno Valley College will gain hundreds more parking spaces, a bookstore, community rooms, offices and campus police headquarters -- all in one building.
wgateway312_3880srfvo_400.jpgChristened the learning gateway building, the $30 million project is one of a kind, said Glenn Carels, who works for the architectural firm LPA Inc., in Irvine.

After a groundbreaking scheduled for Friday, the grading and underground utility work will begin soon, with construction beginning in July.

The college has swelled to nearly 10,000 students and a $35 million budget.

Although the idea was to build a parking structure buried in back of the 134-acre campus, Carels' ambitions as the project's lead designer transcended the mere utilitarian concept.

"I wanted something iconic, exciting and unique that would stand out and would make an impression on new students," he said.

He tailored the design to the front of the campus facing west of Lasselle Street, so the four-storied, trapezoidal-shaped structure would make a bold statement. The first reaction from the college's trustees, he said: "You wanna do what?"

The architectural team sold the trustees on something far grander than a parking structure while working with the region's wind, sun and water.

The 322,000-square-foot learning gateway building will be made of cast concrete and glass with stainless steel louvers vertically applied to the side of the building for flash, shading and air flow.

"This is the essence of sustainability," Carels said. "These low-maintenance materials are all intended to better weather the wind and harsh sun. Stucco wouldn't last."

The goal is to receive a LEED gold rating, the second-highest certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design from the U.S. Building Council.

Photovoltaic panels on the roof will generate solar power that will offset the energy that the building consumes. They also will shade 874 cars in the parking structure.

The entire top deck will collect rainwater, which will pour into a retention basin and be cleaned before it enters the storm-drain system.

The 1.5-acre site will conserve water by landscaping with native vegetation and rocks.

Outside, the building will look dynamic and elegant, Carels said, with jeweled angles of light depending on the time of day and how the sun hits the many-faceted surfaces.

Exterior stairs are enclosed in sloped towers to convey motion and serve as signage panels for the campus.

Inside will be a bookstore, space for college police, disabled student services offices. At the very front, the prominent, cantilevered, 3,000-square-foot community room will seem to "fly out," Carels said, capturing a view of the valley.

"Students will be very proud of the esthetics," Carels said.
Contact
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LPA Inc.
Website
www.lpainc.com/
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