Ohlone Community College

Newark, CA

Ohlone Community College is the first LEED-Platinum certified campus, designed around the model of an estuary with a sophisticated stormwater management system.

This land-use concept plan and design includes open space, parking, and plazas on an 80-acre campus. Setting a benchmark for community colleges with advanced stormwater management techniques, brownfield remediation, this campus uses the site and estuary as a teaching tool.

As a thriving learning environment, the estuary maximizes energy, material, and information flows. The landscape design similarly optimizes social edges by creating opportunities for student gathering, exchange, and community-building. A series of tree windrows create spatial definition and identity on an otherwise flat, inarticulated site. Student gathering areas, amphitheater, medicinal garden, stormwater wetland, and a maintenance yard support a rich framework, offering different scales, microclimates, and relationships with the broader Bay Area landscape.

Stormwater infrastructure and treatment systems are integrated into the campus design by increasing the complexity of the surface to collect, convey, and filter stormwater flows from impervious areas. All site stormwater converges into a vegetated conveyance channel that flows toward the bay to a detention basin at the site’s periphery. The channel runs along an overlook landform aligned to the horizon, amplifying the site’s flatness.

Ecologically, the site occupies a transitional space between vital habitat zones: tidal marshes at its southern edge and moist grassland and a vernal pool complex to the northern edge. The site also bridges two urban land-uses: a light industrial zone along the bay edge and agricultural remnants.