Global architecture company CannonDesign and San Jose-based firm Anderson Brulé Architects have recently completed the award-winning Ohlone Academic Core Buildings project, a new 185,000-square-foot development at the heart of Ohlone College’s Fremont Campus about 40 miles outside of San Francisco. The project comprises three new buildings — the Science Center, the Music and Visual Arts Building and the Learning Commons – Library — that serve as an educational and collaborative student hub. Designed to meet LEED Gold certification, the energy-efficient structures are also a model of sustainability for the school.

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small garden in courtyard between two buildings

Completed in early 2020 after nearly four years in the making, Ohlone College’s three new “academic core” buildings at the Fremont campus replace three older facilities from the 1970s that CannonDesign likened to “castles” due to their daunting appearance. In contrast, the new, modern buildings feel open and welcoming thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that wrap around the structures and fill the interiors with natural light.

Related: New BU academic tower will be 100% free from fossil fuels

blue chairs and shelves of books in room with glass walls and dark wood ceilings
bright college building interior with gray floors and wall of windows

“Prior to these new buildings, the campus was very much a commuter campus, meaning students went to class and then went home,” CannonDesign said in a design statement. “Now, students have access to new indoor and outdoor environments where they can socialize, build friendships, access technology, and focus on academics in a setting more akin to a university.” The hillside buildings — which comprise new classrooms, labs, a library, office spaces, conference rooms and more — also help connect the lower campus to the upper campus.

person sitting on bench across from glass-enclosed meeting room
college classroom filled with students

Designed to support the college’s net-zero and LEED Gold targets, the academic core buildings tap into a one-megawatt photovoltaic system and introduce a new geothermal heat pump system. The buildings also feature a solar hot water heater, reclaimed redwood finishes sourced from the original, demolished buildings and LED lighting throughout.

+ CannonDesign

Photography by Christopher Barrett via CannonDesign