LEED Silver Was Just Part Of The Package

When Modesto Junior College contracted with noted green architecture firm Perkins+Will to design its new Student Services Building, LEED green building certification wasn’t an initial goal. But when the firm integrated sustainable design strategies as a matter of course (and, presumably, at no significant added expense) the school decided to go for it. The college is now home the first building on the Modesto Junior College East Campus to take LEED Silver certification, and the third in the Modesto area to do so as well.

Designed to be both a campus “front door” and a student common space, the $6.5 million building is located on the main pedestrian pathway near the heart of the campus. It consolidates existing student services that were previously scattered across the campus, such as campus admissions, records, counseling, evaluations, classrooms, and additional student support.

modesto junior college leed silver

image via Tricorp Hearn Construction

One of the chief challenges of the project was the fact that it was designed during the days of the peak economy; when the budget for the building was cut, designers had to revise those plans to find creative ways to provide enough space for consolidation, growth, and informal interactions with less cash. The architects met this challenge by allowing the two arms of the building to wrap around a central “bullpen” area, part of which is enclosed as a lobby, the other part of which is an exterior courtyard.

This exterior courtyard is shielded from the area’s hot sun by a canopy of custom aluminum panels perforated in a pattern abstracted from the leaves of the trees around the building, producing a dappled light effect that integrates the project into the surrounding environment. The bonus here being that, by capturing the additional usable area of the courtyard, the building’s total area encompasses 26,000 square feet, giving the college both more room to use (at less expense than an enclosed area) but room to move, as planning for growth was a key consideration of the project.

More information on the project is available online.


Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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