Heavy Metal


An aluminum roof on the new low-slung lab building marks the entrance to Cal Poly Pomona campus.
Courtesy CO Architects

In 2010, officials at Cal Poly Pomona voted to replace Antoine Predock’s Classroom Laboratory Administration (CLA) Building (1992), a pointed, triangular tower with an open top that is arguably the most famous building on campus. The chief reasons for the move were the building’s seismic and structural deficiencies. But another rationale was that its tiny floor plates made it inconvenient, forcing students and faculty to scurry up and down its floors to carry out their tasks.


Now a three-story replacement is ready to go: A rippling spaceship of a structure by LA-based CO Architects will unify, on a single floor, the various programs from the Predock building, whose fate is still up in the air. The new building will be located just southeast of Predock’s CLA, less than 100 feet away.


CO Architects Design Principal Paul Zajfen calls the firm’s 138,000-square-foot, triangle-planned building a “groundscraper.” It contains student-centered programs such as academic and student affairs, with bill payments on the open first floor and administrative offices and other support spaces on the second and third levels. The ground floor features a central courtyard and a walkway connecting to the rest of the campus.


The building’s undulating profile reflects the campus’s rolling topography. It was originally to be clad with a green roof, but that plan was scrapped for budgetary reasons. Instead, it will be covered with perforated aluminum panels, projecting from the side of the building to provide shade underneath for spaces to congregate and to provide cover for its inset, glazed frontages. North facing eyelet skylights will allow more natural light to pour inside.

“We’re really conscious of where we are, and it’s pretty hot out there,” said Zajfen of the school’s inland California site. “The roof covers everything.”

The building is expected to be complete by 2018.

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