CO Architects designed the 140,000-square-foot Student Services Building (SSB) as a new gateway to the California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly) campus in Pomona, roughly 30 miles east of Los Angeles. As the gateway building, SSB welcomes matriculating students who register for classes and apply for financial aid, prospective students and their families who meet at the site for campus tours, and alumni actively involved in the campus community. CO Architects topped the SSB with an undulating, standing-seam aluminum roof that spans over two separate structures. The shape and orientation of this distinguishing feature is driven purely by performance and function with the aims to optimize energy management, maximize daylight, and offer views to the surroundings. The architects devised the roof as the primary performance driver for the curving building to achieve an advantageous Energy Use Intensity (EUI) of 31 (average is 65). It further ties the building to its context by creating a memorable introduction to the university that references the topography of the campus, the foothills, and nearby San Gabriel Mountains. To mitigate the desert climate, the two-acre roof acts as the main shading device. The architects used extensive daylight, glare, and solar heat-gain analysis modeling to optimize the roof geometry, minimize energy loads for lighting and cooling, and increase user visual and thermal comfort. The project has been LEED Platinum-certified.
In addition to shading the open pedestrian path between the complex’s two wings, the 90,000-square-foot roof’s perforated metal overhangs vary from five to 28 feet deep (depending on the orientation) to protect the aluminum-framed, low-e reflective glass exterior wall from the sun, filter dappled sunlight, and optimize daylight to the interiors. To achieve the complex curvatures of the Kalzip standing-seam roof, custom-shaped panels were fabricated onsite utilizing roll-form technology. The roof required approximately 19,000 attachment clips to keep panels in place. The continuous East-West alignment of the standing seams gives the roof texture and grain, while allowing skylights to provide more daylight to the top floor. Standing-seam roofs are rarely as complex. This innovative application is in line with CO Architects’ approach to using digital technology to explore, analyze, and optimize options, as well as to facilitate the transition from design straight to fabrication and installation through the use of BIM.
The broad, open breezeway separates the main, three-story building from the two-story wing housing the multi-purpose center and human resources department. This arcade leads from the main parking area to the student union and library, and is designed to feel like a shaded outdoor street, lined with seating and gathering amenity spaces, while connecting students to the heart of the campus.
The three-story lobby staircase is open and inviting to encourage vertical circulation, collaboration, and spontaneous conversation among building occupants. The main building, occupied by student services and most of the administrative offices, uses 62-foot-wide floorplates to maximize the amount of daylight reaching the interior, where open offices extend from one side to another. Modular planning and strategic placement of building-core elements (shafts, utility rooms, restrooms) allow for flexible and easily re-configurable space. Interior finishes are accented for intuitive wayfinding, with color defining different departments through paint and acoustical baffles made of compressed recycled plastic.
From inside the facility, views open to a central courtyard that delivers light to the interior spaces. This outdoor area features 50-foot-tall trees (once fully grown) and courtyard seating as spillover space for students waiting to access the service centers or meet with university staff. Conference rooms are strategically circulated around the courtyard to provide users with open views and access to natural light, as well as to encourage shared use and boost utilization. On the top floor, offices for the university president and provost are situated within an open, loft-like space with high ceilings, clerestory windows, and terrace access near all staff breakrooms.
Lighting fixtures are LED throughout and horizontal distribution of air ducts and cable trays have been clearly zoned to avoid conflicts, maximize efficiency, and maintain easy access. In addition to passive, mechanical, and lighting strategies, the concrete structure provides thermal mass to stabilize peak load demand and drive down energy consumption for cooling. The solar-optimized design has the potential to provide naturally-lit work spaces for the majority of the eight-hour work period, thereby reducing energy loads and increasing wellness benefits.