CCAC Dormitory

CCAC Dormitory in Oakland, California by Mark Horton / Architecture

California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC), the oldest fine arts and design school west of the Mississippi, asked Mark Horton / Architecture to design their first dedicated dormitory building, located on the idyllic Oakland campus. The new building is adjacent to CCAC's last major construction project on the Oakland campus, a glass studio designed by Jim Jennings, and follows closely on the completion of the expansion of their San Francisco campus with the Beta Building by Tanner Leddy Maytum and Stacey. The project was a direct result of the Bay Area's tightening housing market and the impact of this condition on attracting the best possible art students to San Francisco.

From the beginning, the College viewed this structure as the architectural gateway to their historic campus, and was very interested in a building which would announce their interest in, and understanding of, the importance of contemporary architecture in today's society. As well, the building needed to act on a civic level as a hinge point between the commercial/retail fabric of Oakland to the south and west and the single-family residential fabric of the Rockridge neighborhood to the north and east. In fact, the building is required to address four very different conditions on each of its four elevations: campus, commercial, single-family housing, and service.

The dormitory structure houses 124 students and advisors in 64 bedrooms on three floors above two stories of structured parking. The housing is organized in a bar building running along the north line of the property, with an object building placed in front of this facing the main portion of the campus. The residential rooms are arranged as a pair of one-room doubles which share an intervening bathroom. The object building, clad in zinc, houses the semipublic program areas of the dormitory and has its first level open onto a semipublic terrace to provide for larger school-wide functions. This terrace, combined with the large window of the round building, makes a symbolic as well as programmatic connection to the main campus.

At the civic end of the building, facing Broadway, the building presents itself as a "lantern" or beacon for pedestrians and cars traveling along the Broadway axis. The light-box portion of this lantern, the large glazed portion of the building facing south toward the main portion of campus, has the possibility of acting as an animated surface through internal or external lighting or projection, directly embodying the art school condition in the building.