Allied Health Sciences Center

Create an integrated allied health and sciences teaching community for Los Angeles Valley College by consolidating five interdisciplinary departments previously scattered across campusEarth Science, Anthropology, Life Science, Physical Science, and Health Science. The vision was for a modern, LEED-Silver facility that would provide sufficient administrative, lab, and nursing simulation space to accommodate the needs of each discipline. The project required a two-part building solution to accommodate both laboratory and office spaces, combined with a significant campus exterior public space.

Major program elements are science laboratories and laboratory support, health science clinical simulation suites, shared computer laboratories, exhibit area, seminar space, demonstration classrooms, and outdoor learning laboratories. Additional faculty and administrative offices, conference rooms, and work spaces bring the total area to 131 rooms.

CO Architects designed the prominent Allied Health Sciences Center AHSC to create a new Courtyard for the Sciences situated at the terminus of the Los Angeles Valley Colleges main colonnade-lined campus walk. The 49-million facility, the first new academic building constructed through an institution-wide initiative to modernize and expand the 1950s-era community college, redefines one of three main entrance gateways of the campus.

The contemporary AHSC consists of two three-story structures connected by exterior walkways and an overhead solar panel canopy. The long, linear building housing labs and classrooms faces north/south for optimal solar orientation. Efficiency necessitates the buildings form to allow for as many contiguous labs as possible. The smaller block comprises faculty offices and meeting spaces.

Between these two perpendicularly juxtaposed elements, a great outdoor roomcovered by the PV shade structureleads to the primary entrances for both buildings. The plaza defined by the buildings encompasses teaching gardens, an outdoor classroom, and a storm-water retention pond. South of the labs is a small set of enclosed teaching gardens containing a greenhouse, animal habitat facility, botanical research area, and an archeological dig demonstration pit.

The lab wing is enclosed on the north and south by a taut skin of glass and fiber/cement panels. The random weave of solid and void both reflects the buildings internal program diversity and visually energizes the linear bar. The remainder of the complex is wrapped in a plaster skin, consistent with the existing one-story stucco campus buildings. Because the three-story mass of the building is significantly larger than that of others on campus, the structures design is as tight and taut as possible, as evidenced by the thin surface plane.

Anticipating the future, CO Architects designed the new AHSC with modular, flexible internal room configurations and utility infrastructure that is easily adaptable to evolving functions, thereby obviating the need for expensive reconstruction. Additionally, the architects developed a design vocabulary with a quality of neutrality, but mediated the scale of the existing campus while imagining what it will be 20 years in the future.

To the fullest extent possible, CO Architects involved the users in the programming and planning processes. They interviewed staff and students prior to designing the AHSC, resulting in a design that reflects the current and future needs of all five departments.

Separating the AHSC into two buildings allowed for two different mechanical systems to accommodate the heavier and more constant loads in the laboratory building, while the office building relies on passive cooling strategies, operable windows, and the clients first use of radiant ceilings. Achieving LEED-Silver certification, the AHSC features high-efficiency HVAC systems and lighting. A solar canopy of photovoltaic panels generates 10 percent of the projects total energy use; insulating windows reduce heating and cooling costs while admitting abundant natural light; the structure has a reflective cool roof. Buildings are oriented to minimize western exposure. The AHSC uses 35 percent less electricity than the maximum allowed under Californias relatively rigorous Title 24 code mandate. Rainwater retention ponds are integral to drought-tolerant landscaping.

The 16,000-student Los Angeles Valley College is part of the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District LACCD. With more than 5.7 billion in bond funding allocated to renovate, modernize, and improve all nine of its campuses, the LACCD is undertaking one of the largest public-sector green building programs in the United States. The district serves 135,000 students.

Los Angeles-based CO Architects is a nationally recognized architecture firm known for its deep portfolio of academic, healthcare, and institutional projects. CO Architects has designed major benchmark and award-winning facilities for such clients as University of California seven campuses, Claremont Colleges, Los Angeles Community College District, five state university systems, and many private schools and colleges. CO Architects is sought after for functional, green, and graceful solutions for academic, civic, and institutional needs, including facility evaluation, renovations, new structures, and comprehensive campus planning.


Project Type


Los Angeles,