The Westside I (WS I) building was designed as a pilot project to implement Central New Mexico Community College’s (CNM) recent paradigm shift to a more interactive and social approach to education. During programming, Gould Evans collaborated with a group of younger faculty in order to imagine alternative ways that academic services and interaction with faculty could be integrated into the busy daily routines of students. The two programmatic strategies that emerged out of this collaboration – the Learning Commons Loop and the Faculty Office Pod – put the student educational experience front and center.
By making it the primary circulation space and looping it around the entire floor plate, the Learning Commons Loop becomes the main organizer of the building and immerses students in the breadth of available academic resources. It offers spaces for tutoring, computer usage, social gathering and study. The rich varieties of enclosed and open breakout spaces are located directly across from classrooms, fostering a symbiosis of teaching and discussion. As one progresses around the Loop, he or she is engaged by an ever-changing combination of learning spaces, enticing study lounges and expansive views to the vast New Mexico landscape. Several important moments along the Loop, such as the central information desk, café and art display cases, are distinguished through the combination of acrylic “CNM yellow” panels and Cali Bamboo Marbelized Fossilized Plywood, a rapidly renewable resource. Faculty Pods distributed along the Learning Commons Loop and near class and study rooms encourage students and faculty to cross paths daily in an impromptu way.
The building meets the 2030 Challenge for energy performance with an intensive day lighting strategy, self-shading envelope and the installation of geothermal wells and solar panels.