An Outdoor Space at the Heart of Centralia College

Submitted by SCJ Alliance

The oldest continuously operating two-year college in the state is about to get a heart transplant. Centralia College is building a new 70,000-square-foot student-union building in the center of its campus, and SCJ is providing the landscape architecture services for the project at the core of the school.

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Construction of the TransAlta Student Commons. Photo courtesy of SCJ Alliance.

“The TransAlta Student Commons is right in the middle of it all,” SCJ Landscape Architect Jeff Glander said. “Our team has worked to create an outdoor space reflecting the school’s acknowledgement that the student union building is central, not only in geography, but in heart.”

SCJ’s landscape architecture studio is designing all exterior hardscape, plazas, sustainable landscape and high efficiency irrigation for the $26 million project. Design elements include creating student gathering spaces around the building and reconfiguring streets into student pedestrian plazas. A central circular plaza is replacing a former four-way intersection and will include a future water feature or art sculpture.

“We created 3-D models to help the architects and school visualize all the various design options for the courtyards and hardscape design,” Jeff explained.

The project is scheduled for completion in the spring of 2017, and Centralia College says that the new area is a vital component in the long-term vision for the college campus. That long-term focus led Jeff and his team to include a number of sustainable design elements, including rain gardens for roof run-off and extensive use of pervious pavers.

“Today’s college students are especially invested in sustainability; so, we were sure to focus on those elements,” Jeff said. “And to reflect what we already see at Centralia College, we aimed to provide a space that is useable, beautiful and fun.”

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