California State University, Long Beach - Student Success Center

California State University Long Beach Exterior Entrance SmithGroup Los Angeles Higher Education Architecture
California State University Long Beach Exterior Entrance SmithGroup Los Angeles Higher Education Architecture
California State University Long Beach Exterior Entrance SmithGroup Los Angeles Higher Education Architecture
California State University Long Beach Exterior Entrance SmithGroup Los Angeles Higher Education Architecture
California State University Long Beach Interior SmithGroup Los Angeles Higher Education Architecture
California State University Long Beach Interior SmithGroup Los Angeles Higher Education Architecture

To close achievement gaps and improve graduation rates among at-risk student groups, California State Long Beach transformed a ‘50s-era campus building into a Student Success Center. The adaptive reuse met challenging budget constraints and sustainability goals, while creating an inclusive community that consolidates support services, provides valuable learning and gathering spaces, and enables students to thrive.

Client

California State University, Long Beach

Location

Long Beach, California

Markets/Services

Architecture, Higher Education

Size

80,000 GSF

California State University Long Beach (CSULB) is a progressive institution committed to addressing an alarming reality in higher education: one in five college students will not complete their program or receive their degree. This statistic disproportionately affects low-income and underrepresented students. The University sought to consolidate 16 support services into one inclusive center that provides support for the entire spectrum of student needs.

For its new Student Success Center CSULB opted to transform Peterson Hall, a mid-century three-story concrete frame building. Peterson Hall’s greatest asset was its centralized location adjacent to Friendship Walk, a major campus thoroughfare. The University’s vision for the building as a place of gathering and support would require a complete transformation; SmithGroup had to make key structural, programmatic, ecological and aesthetic decisions to accommodate its various uses and better engage with students.

 

California State University Long Beach Interior SmithGroup Los Angeles Higher Education Architecture

The original concrete building has been transformed into an open and inviting destination that consolidates academic resources, health and wellness activities, varied study environments, and social interactions in a contextually responsive setting. It activates a key site at the heart of the campus and student life, adjacent to the student union and library. 

 

A new glassed-in student lounge atop columns redefines the entry sequence, giving the building a new presence and engagement on campus. A light-filled main stairway and inviting courtyard add to the sense of welcome and respite. Dark, cellular classrooms and labs have been modernized as day-lit, dynamic, porous space that draw students to a variety of alcoves and comfortable seating arrangements. Even the previously avoided basement is now is full of students, creatively working in the art studios and laboratories and taking advantage of benches and tables in the corridors.

 

The building shines with a new life - you can sense the old bones but it has the right sense of energy we needed to attract students to utilize the services we offer them - and it keeps them coming back. 

Michael Gardner
Architect, Director of Campus Planning & Sustainability, CSULB

 

By preserving and reimagining an existing campus building, the project enhanced its sense of place, met budget constraints and responded to the University’s sustainability goals. The renovation resulted in up to 90% less embodied carbon than a similar new building. Exposing and polishing the concrete floors and opening the ceilings reduced the amount of material used and waste generated during construction. New efficient mechanical, lighting, and window systems reduce energy consumption by 36% (compared with a similar facility), and the building is the first on campus with zero-waste program bins.

 

California State University Long Beach Exterior Entrance SmithGroup Los Angeles Higher Education Architecture

Conservation of the original exterior brick and window openings saved money, and was a responsible, contextual design response. These and other strategies contributed to the project’s LEED Gold certification.

 

CSULB’s commitment to meeting student challenges is paying off: It recently received an award from the American Association of Colleges and Universities for success in raising freshmen six-year graduation rates from 41% to 64% in the last decade. The transformation of an outdated building into the Student Success Center portends further success, creating an inviting, inspiring environment where students can access invaluable personal and academic support on their path to a bright future.