California College of the Arts

Location
San Francisco, CA

Status
Under Construction

Client
California College of the Arts

Type
Cultural, Educational

Size
90,000 sf new construction

Sustainability
Targeting carbon neutrality and net-zero energy


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The architecture will serve as a beacon for students and the public, drawing them toward its shared green spaces and amenities.

Studio Gang’s design for CCA’s new unified campus unlocks the potential of art and design education in the twenty-first century. The architecture connects disciplines in dynamic ways through a vibrant indoor-outdoor environment, offering a highly sustainable model for the future of creative practices.

Founded during the Arts and Crafts movement at the turn of the twentieth century, CCA has grown to encompass 34 art and design disciplines, from jewelry and metal arts to textiles and ceramics. Unifying people and program and consolidating its two sites, the expanded San Francisco campus explores art and design as vehicles for positive social, cultural, and environmental impact.


An early model shows the dynamic “double ground” concept: Rectangular cut-outs between an upper and lower ground plane reveal different programs and promote interactions between the College’s disciplines, which are organized into seven “neighborhoods” based on shared pedagogical, experiential, and physical infrastructure needs.

Conceived as a creative ecosystem that strengthens relationships between people, ideas, and practices, the design extends the main academic building of the existing San Francisco campus into a new campus yard framed by a layered “double ground” of art-making facilities and landscapes. The ground plane serves as a hub of indoor-outdoor maker spaces supporting more physically intensive practices. Its open and flexible plan makes the different programs more visible to one another, promoting interdisciplinary interactions and providing adaptability as new needs, uses, and technologies develop.

Above, a second “ground” offers additional art-making spaces and outdoor classrooms, as well as informal social spaces—all visually and physically connected to the spaces below by a robust terraced landscape. Pavilions for art-making and learning rise from this second ground. With deep balconies for exterior circulation, working, and socializing, their exposed mass timber structure makes legible the physical forces and materials of the architecture.

Together, this layered environment functions as a laboratory where students and faculty can explore sustainable materials, processes, and tools. Carved out of the ground plane, maker yards allow abundant fresh air and natural light to penetrate deep within the workshops. Other passive strategies, such as self-shading façades and night-flush ventilation, naturally cool the campus and reduce the size of mechanical systems. With the infrastructure in place to enable a closed-loop, net-positive campus in the future, the design is dedicated to supporting healthy, resilient spaces for art-making.

Through an abundance of public amenities, green space, and programs that seek to increase the impact of art in the wider community, the campus connects CCA not only to San Francisco’s design and innovation district but the city beyond.

Deep balconies, framed by the pavilions’ lightweight mass timber structure, extend education outdoors, reducing energy costs through solar shading, natural ventilation, and access to daylight.

Related

Now

San Francisco Chronicle — "Timber! SF’s next architectural trend could be eco-friendly buildings made of wood"

California College of the Arts, a new campus designed by Studio Gang

"Touted by boosters as an eco-friendly alternative to concrete and steel, with a tactile warmth that theoretically makes for a more nurturing workplace, large buildings of structural timber have developed a cult following. . . The most visually striking of the projects will be the one at California College of the Arts."

Now

California College of the Arts Wins Mass Timber Building Competition

California College of the Arts, a new campus designed by Studio Gang

The Governor’s Forest Management Task Force and the Office of Planning and Research announced California College of the Arts as a winner of a first-ever competition designed to highlight a category of engineered wood products known as mass timber.