Estrella Mountain Community College, Estrella Hall Expansion + Renovation

Estrella Mountain Community College, Estrella Hall Expansion + Renovation

Avondale, AZ

Defining the Future Direction of the College Masterplan

The Estrella Hall expansion positions itself to become the intellectual hub of the campus while creating dynamic and fluid spaces that support the college mission. As a new centerpiece, it reorients the campus to the future direction of the masterplan. Recognizing the importance that the landscape plays in the definition of Estrella Mountain Community College, the building is designed to reinforce the fabric of the campus by continuing the development of a series of linked garden spaces. Conceived as a pavilion within the landscaped campus core, the building is a backdrop for the garden spaces around it. Due to the footprint of the expanded building a concerted effort was made to promote permeability and visual openness of the ground floor, elevating discrete solid functions to the second level.

Functions such as the computer commons and campus library previously located in the existing building were relocated to the expansion. The new conferencing center with a 4,000 sf meeting space sits aside the expansion, its form in dialogue with the inflected wall of the expansion’s overhanging upper story. The first floor of the existing Estrella Hall was renovated to expand the Information Technology area, provide new classrooms, and accommodate the primary tutoring functions in the open commons area. The existing sunken floor level was brought up to grade maximizing flexibility. This common open space extends the library and computing commons into the expansion, housing the library and computer commons, lounge and reading spaces.

Above the alternating two story daylit spaces, functional “bridges” follow the pattern of the existing building. This configuration allows daylighting in the core of the building, minimizes the noise and distraction concerns of a single large central space, and provides access between offices and classroom spaces. Faculty offices and support spaces have an internal windowed view to the daylit two-story spaces. New learning studios are organized to promote lingering between classes, with walk up discussion spaces, organized collaboration, study rooms, and faculty offices in close proximity.

Project facts

Design Architect: Richärd Kennedy Architects

Architect of Record: Richärd Kennedy Architects

Client: Maricopa County Community College District

Size: 43,000 SF (new),  15,000 SF (renovation),  58,000 total SF

Project Type: Higher Education

Services: Architecture, Programming, Planning, Interior Design

Delivery Method: CMAR

General Contractor: Okland Construction

MEP Engineer:  Energy Systems Design

Structural Engineer:  Rudow + Berry

Landscape Design Architect:  Colwell Shelor Landscape Architecture

Photographers:  Bill Timmerman | Marion Brenner

Press & Awards

2014   Arizona Forward Association Environmental Excellence Awards, Crescordia Award

2014   ASLA Arizona Design Honor Award

2013   AIA Arizona, Citation Award


It is within the created park-like setting that the new expansion and conferencing center arise as pavilions recalling structures in the landscape such as the meeting house, bandstand, gazebo, conservatory, ruin, and folly. The intent to extend exterior spaces of similar character to surround the site of the new expansion would offer new outdoor opportunities on campus for recreation, gathering, ceremony, studying, and reflection as well as a connection to future development on the campus.

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