West Valley Campus at the College of the Desert, Palm Springs, Calif. - the new West Valley Campus will be organized around an Arroyo, or dry riverbed.

West Valley Campus at the College of the Desert, Palm Springs, Calif. - the new West Valley Campus will be organized around an Arroyo, or dry riverbed.

Credit: Courtesy HGA Architects and Engineers


A seven-phase development of the College of the Desert's West Valley Campus, to be located in Palm Springs, Calif., is now underway. Minneapolis-based HGA Architects and Engineers, winner of a 2012 Annual Design Review Honorable Mention for its Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum, has completed design for the first phase, and will direct its master planning, as well as the campus sustainability plan for the entire 119-acre campus. The first phase—50,000 square feet of academic buildings separated by a courtyard shaded with photovoltaic panels—is expected to be complete in January of 2015, and will comprise facilities for culinary arts education, as well as labs for solar panel and wind turbine engineering. Fifty-nine acres of the 119-acre parcel, which was transferred from the City of Palm Springs to the College of the Desert in 2010, will be used for school buildings, with the remaining 60 acres slated to become a solar farm leased by the college to a third-party vendor, turning rays into money raised for the school. 

“The College of the Desert’s vision for a self-sustaining campus is to produce more energy than it consumes,” HGA’s Los Angeles office director James Matson, AIA, said in a release. “The plan emphasizes energy production along with substantial conservation and energy efficiency, waste recovery and biomimicry in partnership with green industries and educational initiatives. The campus will consider the site’s unique ecology and natural resources to create a national model for sustainable research and teaching that supports the local economy and educational needs in the Coachella Valley.” 

Within the campus, architecture that resonates with the midcentury modern style that is so prevalent in Palm Springs will surround an artificial arroyo with desert landscaping to promote ventilation between buildings. High performance façades will combine with exterior shading to minimize passive solar gain indoors, while stormwater retention reservoirs will provide evaporative cooling. HGA is confident that the campus will perform better than Net Zero: “This project has forward-thinking goals that go beyond Net Zero Energy to embrace a Zero-Plus plan that creates renewable clean energy rather than simply uses less energy,” Patrick Thibaudeau, vice president of sustainable design at HGA, said in a statement.

For more details and images of the West Valley Campus of the College of the Desert, visit ARCHITECT's Project Gallery. 

Other projects by HGA include the Lakewood Cemetery Garden Mausoleum and an arts center expansion for the College of Saint Benedict.