“Unlike four-year institutions funded by private donations and endowments,” an article published by Metropolis states, “community colleges have to be rigorous in proving their worth to the communities that pay for them… Not only does this mean that their facilities can’t be wastefully lavish, but they have to work, period.” Highlighting the Bristol Community College John J. Sbrega Health and Science Building as a champion example of a beautiful, efficient, and affordable building that certainly works, the article examines the unique design opportunities presented by community colleges and why large design firms may increasingly be drawn to these projects.
In his own experience, Sasaki principal and architect Bryan Irwin, AIA, LEED AP, finds community colleges have been thinking about experiential learning, multi-functional spaces, and creative funding mechanisms for a long time, and he sees this as a draw for designers looking for a rewarding challenge. “Community colleges are the last bastions of civic-minded behavior. They’re open to everyone; they show people a better life,” says Irwin, when asked why community college projects inspire him. “Our role is to create an environment different from what [students are] coming from, to ennoble their experience, to put them in a different mind-set. I want the building not to be intimidating or scary, but to feel optimistic; to be forward-looking, innovative.”
Read the article online and look for it in Metropolis’ current print issue.