CO Architects Celebrated for State-of-the-Art Higher Education Facilities

Firm Honored With Multiple Awards for Innovation and Design Excellence 


(L-R) The Student Services Building at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, CA, and the Health Education Building at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS. Photos: Bill Timmerman. Click here for high-resolution images.

LOS ANGELES: CO Architects has been recognized by local professional organizations for its groundbreaking design of higher education projects in California and Kansas. The 49th-annual Architectural Awards presented by the Los Angeles Business Council (LABC), highlighted two projects designed by the Los Angeles-based firm. The Health Education Building at the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS, and the Student Services Building at California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, CA, received accolades in the Education and Beyond L.A. categories, respectively. The Student Services Building was also awarded with an Honor by the Westside Urban Forum (WUF) at the 2019 WUF Awards in the Schools category.

“Recognition from these trailblazing organizations emboldens our mission to continue developing innovative projects for leading national higher education institutions,” said Scott Kelsey, FAIA, Managing Principal at CO Architects. “Our expertise in designing transformative learning environments is at the core of our practice, and we are committed to delivering cutting-edge buildings that will foster diverse environments for students and faculty, as well as benefit the communities they serve.”

CO Architects’ revered body of work continues to garner national and regional acclaim; ENR California honored the architecture, interior design, and planning firm as the 2019 California Design Firm of the Year.

Student Services Building Provides Bold Statement and Key Entryway to Leading University
CO Architects designed the 140,000-square-foot Student Services Building (SSB) as a new gateway to California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, CA, located approximately 30 miles east of Los Angeles. The building is targeting LEED Platinum and connects with its surroundings by creating a memorable introduction to the university, referencing the topography of the campus, foothills, and nearby San Gabriel Mountains. The SSB welcomes prospective students and their families, matriculating students, and visiting alumni. The building consolidates enrollment, registration, financial aid, cashiering, and prospective student services into easily accessible, one-stop service centers adjacent to their supporting administrative functions.

CO Architects topped the SSB with an undulating, standing-seam aluminum roof that spans over two separate structures. The shape and orientation of this distinguishing feature is driven purely by performance and function with the aims to optimize energy management, maximize daylight, and offer views to the surroundings. To mitigate the desert climate, the two-acre roof acts as the main shading device. The architects used extensive daylight, glare, and solar heat-gain analysis modeling to optimize the roof geometry, minimize energy loads for lighting and cooling, and increase user visual and thermal comfort.

The 2019 WUF Awards jury lauded CO Architects’ design of the SSB and heralded it as a “new center of life for the campus.” The jury continued by commending the distinctive building as “generous, well-lit, and very rich in detail.”

Health Education Building Elevates Student Learning and Collaboration
The 171,744-square-foot Health Education Building (HEB), designed by CO Architects in collaboration with Kansas City-based Helix Architecture + Design, serves as the University of Kansas Medical Center’s primary learning venue for the medical, nursing, and allied health professions. The building houses a variety of spaces that encourage collaborative, interdisciplinary problem-solving inside informal learning environments and traditional classrooms. The state-of-the-art building, located at a prominent intersection on campus, establishes a gateway and an iconic presence for the University of Kansas Medical Center.

Clad in clear, insulated glass, the cantilevered west wing acts as a lantern, providing daytime and illuminated night views of the advanced simulation labs that appear suspended inside the building. The curving terracotta and glass enclosures of the simulation spaces invite metaphorical interpretations for human organs within the skin surrounding them, and symbolize the hands-on, progressive curriculum taught in the building. Each floor of the building is designed to promote a sense of student camaraderie, community, and teamwork. Faculty offices are located onsite, and a grand event space can be used for school functions, alumni events, and special gatherings.

The HEB is CO Architects’ third Beyond L.A. award win from the LABC Architectural Awards. In 2013, CO Architects’ design for the Health Sciences Education Building at the University of Arizona in Phoenix was recognized as the LABC’s first-ever Beyond L.A. award winner. The next building CO Architects designed for the University of Arizona was its Biomedical Sciences Partnership Building, which was also honored by LABC with a Beyond L.A. award in 2018.

About CO Architects
Los Angeles-based CO Architects is nationally recognized for architectural planning, programming, and design in the higher education, science and technology, and healthcare sectors, and works with leading institutions from coast to coast. CO Architects’ specialized expertise includes transformative schools of medicine and health professions, advanced research and teaching laboratories, and innovative clinical facilities on higher education, healthcare, and urban campuses. The firm has been nationally and internationally recognized with more than 135 awards for innovative design and project delivery, including the American Institute of Architects, California Council’s Architecture Firm of the Year Award.