Mohave Community College lies in a valley between the Hualapai and Cerbat Mountain ranges. In addition to being located on the edge of the Mohave Desert, the campus sits on the edge of its town, Kingman, AZ. As a result, it is a commuter college; all the more reason for their new Student Services Center to make a “place”. Although the existing buildings and landscaping are well maintained (indicating a self-awareness and pride), its architecture lacks connectivity and/or identity. Therefore, the new Student Services Center is designed to go beyond its quantitative program requirements and provide a beautiful place of assembly, social interaction, information and respite. Most of all, it becomes the center piece of student life and the standard for future development.
The new Center will have a purposeful transparency towards the circulation heart of campus. Students will have a visual connection from outside to inside and vice versa. It is said, people come to Kingman “to escape the brutality of weather.” Therefore, we incorporated several outdoor spaces of varying scales and levels of privacy to encourage outdoor interaction, chance encounter, or simply thoughtful study. Materials occurring outside move inside. The distinction between interior and exterior space is left ambiguous. Students and faculty enjoy an abundance of natural daylight and garden views.
Administrative services, typically spread out, have been consolidated and made, at once, visible and efficient. Mohave Community College has a long history of showing respect for its students and the priority of a higher education. Throughout their existing buildings, student respect and admiration is demonstrated by exhibited student artwork and graphics. Therefore, the new Student Services Center incorporates many diverse opportunities for the display of student effort.
Following the lessons of transparency and connectivity within the new Student Services Center, the Building 200 renovation revives the existing building by providing consolidated, open spaces and new connections to the exterior. Punched skylights and full height glazing allow daylight to affect every occupied space, while faculty and students are encouraged to interact within the large colorful corridors.
Our greatest challenge was bringing their very tight budget in alignment with a wonderfully ambitious program. Proving, once again, serious architecture need not be dependent on extravagant funding.