Pomona and Pitzer Receive Architectural Awards

More than 300 notable real estate professionals flocked to the Hotel Casa del Mar Feb. 20 for the 2013 Commercial Real Estate Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. This year, the awards ceremony, sponsored by the Los Angeles Business Journal, chose to honor two projects at the 5Cs: Pomona Hall and Sontag Hall at Pomona College and the Residential Life Phase II Project at Pitzer College. The Pomona residence halls earned an award for the best building in the Public/Education category, while the Pitzer complex took home a silver award in the Sustainable category.

“We are quite pleased and honored to receive any type of award for the Pomona and Sontag Hall construction. It was a great project, it involved a great many students, faculty, staff, and we all worked very hard to attain a Platinum LEED rating for the building, so we are very honored and pleased to get the award,” said Bob Robinson, Assistant Vice President for Campus Services.

Larry Burik, Assistant Vice President of Campus Facilities at Pitzer, said that while the Commercial Real Estate Award is a welcome accolade, functionality was the first thing considered when designing Residence Life Phase II.

“We never intended that the project would be built to win awards … We needed to meet the needs of the campus first, the awards really come into secondary value compared to meeting the goals we set down in the beginning,” Burik said.

Since nominations for the Commercial Real Estate Awards and similar honors are generally submitted by the architect, officials at the two colleges had little to do with the process. Ehrlich Architects designed the Pomona residence halls, while carrierjohnson + CULTURE architects designed the residence life project at Pitzer.

Other Pomona development projects have received accolades recently. Pomona Hall and Sontag Hall were honored by the Architectural Commission of Claremont, as were several landscaping projects, such as the Dartmouth Avenue green space renovation and the new campus signage initiative. Pomona also received the 2012 Bess Garner Historic Preservation Award for its attention to the college’s older structures and the Los Angeles Architectural Awards 2012 Award of Excellence for Pomona and Sontag Halls.

In recent years, Pomona and Pitzer have adopted sustainability measures in their construction projects. Both schools require all new buildings to earn a minimum of a LEED Gold certification. Pomona Hall, Sontag Hall, and Residence Life Phase II are all LEED Platinum certified, going above and beyond this goal. Over the next few years, Pitzer hopes to completely replace all student housing with LEED-certified, sustainable architecture.

While the Pomona residence halls did not receive a Commercial Real Estate Award in the Sustainable category, for which they were also nominated, Robinson believes that the buildings’ innovative sustainable features helped them earn the Public/Education award.

“I think it was all of the green features of the buildings that got us the rating for a Public and Education building,” Robinson said.

In addition to their sustainable construction, the residence halls at both schools have other notable qualities. Architects for the Pomona residence halls paid strict attention to incorporating aspects of existing Pomona architectural styles into the construction of the new residence halls. While Robinson admits that Pomona Hall and Sontag Hall look very different from other campus buildings, he said that the architects tried to add familiar touches of texture and color. Pomona Assistant Director of Planning and Project Management Andrea Ramella said these aspects are meant to evoke connections with the nearby Clark residence halls.

“The buildings are adjacent to heritage sites such as the Clark and Frary structures. Sontag & Pomona were able to use many of the same materials but in new ways, such as terra cotta louvers instead of roof tiles and an upper story ribbon window system that also highlights some of the second story spaces in the Clark residences,” Ramella wrote in an e-mail to TSL.

The Residence Life Phase II Project is unusual for its mixed use of space. In addition to student housing, which Burik calls the “active side” of the project, the structure also has a “quiet side,” which contains classrooms, a computer lab, and the new Office of Study Abroad.

“In Residence Life Phase I, there was a portion of space that was mixed use, which was recorded as being as success. Phase I had art studios, a gallery, and other secondary uses and received compliments from students and faculty because of proximity to student housing … We leveraged off that to incorporate more mixed use into Phase II,” Burik said.

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