“We’re a different kind of college. We provide education for the real world, a perfect marriage of education and industry. Growth and learning are fused with career realities.”
Tonian Hohberg, President & CEO, FIDM
For over 35 years FIDM/Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising has offered a specialized, private college education with emphasis on combining academic excellence and real world experience. In the latest installment of FIDM’s unique creative learning environments, Clive Wilkinson Architects has designed a dynamic “learning landscape” for the San Diego Campus as part of an extended development of the FIDM brand in physical space. Together with sister campuses in Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Francisco the new architecture at FIDM has come to represent the college’s reputation, brand, and philosophy towards education.
The college occupies the entire 3rd floor of a high-rise office building located in a newly revitalized area of downtown San Diego. CWA created a variegated internal landscape that is organized around the complex programmatic requirements of a school campus, all the while framing remarkable views of San Diego’s skyline and an adjacent park. FIDM’s new learning landscape is organized in three parts: a public entry zone, an educational zone and a zone for student support services and administration. A continuous path connects the different areas of the campus, taking one through specific areas such as reception, admissions, career guidance, financial services, classrooms, labs, student lounge and the library, each with its own unique spatial experience.
Upon arrival on the third floor, the entry zone immediately envelopes the visitor with rich color and material palette inspired by the native desert environment of the San Diego region. The campus is treated like a landscape, its functions integrated with design, and its parts connected through a holistic graphic design program. The warm palette of oranges, yellows and greens seen in the in the local desert vegetation compliment the rich blues of the clear desert sky. These saturated colors differentiate the “monuments” in the landscape from the warm muted background characterized by the large oak-paneled ceiling and sand colored quartz flooring in the public zone. The full height wall graphics of abstracted vegetation lend visual texture to the space, extending from the entry, through the reception and the central hallway, and culminating dramatically in the ceiling plane of the Financial Services area.
Unified by a brightly colored folded yellow ceiling and dark green carpet, the administration and student services zone is notable for its openness; glass fronted education, career planning and admissions offices along the perimeter of the building encourage interaction between staff and students. This glazing also serves to allow daylight to travel deep into the space, where lounge areas carved between offices invite use by students and staff alike.
The design of the classroom zone recognized from the outset that the school’s creative and collaborative culture would not be well served by standard education planning. Where conventional education spaces treat classroom spaces as opaque boxes to be isolated from circulation, at FIDM’s San Diego campus transparency between these zones is maximized with full length glass walls, and the circulation zone widens at intervals to create carved out open media spaces. Aware that academic life and social life each profit from the other, the Student Lounge space opens off of the classroom zone, offering a location for informal meeting to occur, accented by custom organic metal lanterns.