Los Angeles, CA (September 19, 2018) – The Southwestern College in Chula Vista, CA has opened a new Allied Health Sciences building at its satellite campus Higher Education Center (HEC) in National City, CA. Located at the corner of Plaza Boulevard and National City Boulevard, the 22,500 SF building designed by Culver City-based architecture and urban design firm Johnson Favaro includes classrooms and labs in support of the college’s health sciences program.
The Allied Health Sciences building features new classrooms and science instruction labs in the areas of biology, chemistry, microbiology and anatomy, as well as a laboratory training classroom serving the Medical Laboratory Technician program. Administration and faculty offices are also housed in the new facility, along with a regional Business Development Center focusing on small and emerging businesses in the area. Students in the healthcare program will also now benefit from a storefront community clinic located in the new building as a means to fulfill their required hours as healthcare assistants-in-training. The clinic provides free basic health and wellness services to the neighborhood and facilitates training for students, thereby connecting the college program directly to the community.
As a satellite campus of Chula Vista’s Southwestern College, the Higher Education Center in National City expands the reach of college education to a larger area and provides much greater access to career opportunities for disadvantaged students in San Diego’s East Bay region. The new Allied Health Sciences building accommodates 250% more students than the previous facility — approximately 500 more students per semester. With the facility’s increased capacity and innovative features, students now have access to more prerequisite courses within the health science programs.
“In the old facility we were able to offer only one of the five major prerequisite courses for the pre-Allied Health majors. Now we house all five in-house,” said Heather Anderson, Instructional Lab Technician at HEC. “We anticipate seeing program enrollment increase both districtwide and in the greater San Diego County region.” The prerequisite courses support not only the health science curriculums at HEC, but also enable students to transfer to additional professional degree programs at other universities and colleges.
The new building, located in the center of National City’s downtown just blocks from the civic center, is outward facing, oriented toward the street, with a glass-fronted community meeting room at its entrance. The 90-seat assembly space functions as a classroom and community college boardroom as well as a meeting place for neighborhood nonprofits. The multipurpose room opens to a courtyard and lawn located between the new building and the existing Higher Education Center to the north.
“The main design goal of this project was to create a microcosm of a college campus,” said Steve Johnson, principal at Johnson Favaro. The new L-shaped science building surrounds a new courtyard and lawn, creating a compact version of a traditional college quadrangle. The space provides tranquility and refuge for students, faculty members, staff, and the community, serving as a place to enhance college life outside the classroom. Classrooms and labs are connected by a covered outdoor passage that faces out onto the quadrangle.
The architects drew inspiration from the fortified bases of urban buildings in the prewar American Beaux Arts tradition. The building façade is a wall of marble-print porcelain tile arranged in a large, over-scaled bond pattern, creating the appearance of enormous stone blocks separated by large gaps; though they may read like joints without mortar, the gaps are actually windows of the science labs and classrooms. Likewise, the façade is not made of thick stone as the illusion implies, but rather two-inch-thick screens extending out from the building’s core, functioning as a sun-shading device for the glass curtain walls beneath the tiled blocks.