Ohlone College’s Fremont Campus, built on steep hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay, resembles an Italian Hill Town. This has not always worked out for its students, whose current campus—much of it built by local modernist architect Ernest Kump—has grade changes so steep that students will schedule their classes to avoid it. Enter Cannon Design, whose $119 million Academic Core Replacement Project will not only update the school’s facilities but unify the campus, address grade changes, and open views.
Focusing on a new Science Building, Arts Building, and Learning Commons, the new re-graded complex, lying lightly on the groundscape, will be connected by terraced levels and a landscaped exterior walk, and, of course, elevators. The metal panel-clad, steel-framed buildings will be oriented perpendicular to the campus to maximize views; in the center will be a view corridor that replaces a bulky library. The projects are aiming for LEED Gold on a campus that is currently hoping to become net zero through a large solar array, a geothermal technical plant, and several other sustainability measures. The school’s green tradition, said Cannon senior vice president Carl Hampson, stems from the Ohlone Indians, who, it is said, lived thoughtfully on the land. The project will be paid for via a recent local bond measure.