The project resolves the issue that Cuyamaca College has been slowly changing into a full service community college campus from what was built as little more than an educational center with only minimal lab facilities and no assembly facilities. In the fall of 1999 Cuyamaca College had an enrollment of 7,086, far exceeding that of an educational center. The 4,125 FTES generated in the fall of 1999 indicates a low average load per student of only 8.73 hours. The cause is a chronic lack of specialized Art studios and lab facilities needed by students to complete their curriculum requirements. The solution provided in this project is to construct almost exclusively specialized facilities to satisfy that need.

The east wing of the building houses the line and digital arts programs. Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture instruction take place in five naturally-lit art studios.  Each studio is carefully oriented and filled with light that is modulated specifically for the various studio requirements.  Two computer studios were included to facilitate instruction in digital photography, graphic design and digital animation. A major feature in the complex is a one hundred seat digital theater capable of wide screen cinema projection and digital multi-media presentations.

The project also provides a new multidisciplinary laboratory-learning center for English, ESL, Reading, Speech, American Sign Language, Music, Drama, Fine Art, and related Assisted Learning. Included are instructional labs (both computer and conventional), independent learning labs, performance/assembly, digital theater/planetarium, exhibit and necessary support space.

As home to the College’s music and drama programs, the three-story building features a 400-seat theater/recital hall adjacent scenery construction, rehearsal, and costuming spaces, Acoustically optimized instrument and choral rehearsal rooms, music library, and an electronic music lab.  The Twelve classrooms are provided for language instruction.


Location: Cuyamaca College, El Cajon, California

District: Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District

Size: 84,000 SF

Cost: $24 M

Completion: 2007

Awards: Award of Honor, Community College Facility Coalition (CCFC);  Design Award, American School & University Magazine

Performance Theater
Visual Arts Studios
Digital Theater