West Valley College

Project Location

San Jose, CA


BFGC - IBI Group Architects


SL70, HSW60

Case Study: West Valley College 

West Valley College in Northern California was built in the early 1970s, and since then has suffered many of the problems associated with that era’s lackluster community college design. The school’s concrete construction, though durable, limits visibility indoors and out, and also makes spaces less adaptable than the campus required.

The Campus Center, a newer building, created another issue; it cut off two nearby outdoor plazas from each other, leaving them isolated and underutilized. To make up for the situation, West Valley was using makeshift signage to try to draw students in, helping them locate administrative and counseling buildings. Overall, the campus plan suffered from poor traffic and circulation.

The NanaWall Solution to Pedestrian Traffic

The Campus Center, however, was aptly named, as it resides in the heart of the campus and is a central place for students to congregate, eat and buy school supplies. It needed to become a better hub of activity. 

Deciding to solve these challenges once and for all, the school enlisted architecture firm BFGC-IBI Group, which created a design to address the concerns. At the center of their concept was the NanaWall SL70 Folding System, used both in exterior wall and interior partition locations.

"The Campus Center blurs the line between indoor and outdoor space. The NanaWalls creates a flexible environment."

Increased Flexibility, Visibility and Sustainability

The aluminum-framed, thermally broken system replaced the existing, single-glazed storefront windows. To contrast the beige truss work and bronze siding, BFGC-IBI Group chose dark gray anodized frames. The panels’ limited fenestration (a single mullion bar divides the lower third from the top par) provides excellent illumination and a modernist aesthetic. 

The result is an attractive façade that addresses issues of flexibility, visibility and sustainability.

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