CSU Long Beach – College for Professional and International Education

  • area / size 16,145 sqft
  • Completed 2018
  • ZGF designed a building for the College for Professional and International Education at a central part of the CSU Long Beach campus in Long Beach, California.

    The three-story, 34,000 SF College of Professional and International Education (CPIE) classroom building at California State University Long Beach (CSULB) is intended to plant a flag for the growing program and create an identity for the site, which is located at the intersection of a busy campus entry point and two major campus pedestrian thoroughfares. The resulting design pays homage to the existing mid-century modern campus architecture, while maintaining a sense of unique individual expression. Two rectilinear wings form a sharp right angle, with upper volumes of cream stucco resting upon a base of rich red brick. The clean lines and contrasting materiality of the L-shaped building create a striking campus gateway, both literally—campus-goers arriving via State University Drive pass through a breezeway carved out of the base of the blue- and green-windowed building—and metaphorically, as a hub for international students to learn, collaborate, and integrate into the broader campus community.

    The building features 20 classrooms, conferencing space, and open-air communal spaces, including a new landscaped plaza. Embraced by the two wings of the building, the plaza features ample seating for lunchtime hangouts and study sessions alike. The campus-facing elevations are characterized by an array of horizontal tubes, creating a screen that functions as a sunshade, mitigating solar glare and minimizing heat gain. Meeting aesthetic and sustainability goals, the tube spacing is varied, opening axial views where desired and providing denser areas of shade where needed. The building’s appearance evolves as the sun goes down, when the visual dominance of the tubes dissipates and the screen is silhouetted against the glow of the brightly colored classroom windows beyond. Interior spaces are enlivened by the blue and green colored glass panels, creating a playful yet calming aesthetic. Lounge areas and “genius” bars are in the open-air corridors just outside the classrooms on each level, taking advantage of the mild Southern California climate and minimizing indoor space.

    Targeting LEED Platinum® and the first net-zero energy ready building on the campus, it sets new standards of sustainability for future development. Rooftop photovoltaic arrays generate solar power to off-set energy usage, while building orientation was carefully considered to maximize natural lighting and ventilation. As a result, 95% of spaces are daylit and ceiling fans and operable windows in each classroom provide a constant flow of fresh air, creating a healthy, comfortable, and productive learning environment that simultaneously minimizes the campus carbon footprint.

    A custom graphic installation was developed for the lobby, inspired by the deep-rooted skateboard culture on the campus. The three-dimensional sculpture consists of 44 skateboards emerging from the wall in two intermingled rows. Both sides of each skateboard are printed with an abstract interpretation of the many nations represented within the international student body. The entrance view is a composition based on the colors and graphic elements of national flags—a combination of stripes, arrows, circles, and stars. The exit view presents the color spectrum established by the flags blended into a smooth color gradient.

    Photography: Lawrence Anderson