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ARCHITECTURE LEADERS TODAY

T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R C A P TA I N S O F I N D U S T RY www.architectureleaderstoday.com

BCA Architects

architecture, planning, interiors

Paul Bunton and his California-based firm of BCA Architects are top of the class when it comes to educational architecture, completing a variety of projects throughout California.


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BCA: TOP OF THE CLASS by Joan Tupponce

BCA Architects took top honors in April when the architectural firm’s design was selected for the new campus gateway project at Southwestern College in California. The firm’s design for the seven-acre parcel at the northeast corner of the campus will link Southwestern College to the local Chula Vista community. BCA was chosen from a starting field of 41 architectural firms. “It’s an honor to compete with some of the top design firms in the State of California for this project, and an even bigger honor to have won it,” said Paul Bunton, AIA, founding principal of BCA. Bunton founded BCA in 1989 with structural engineer Geoffrey Clifford. The two split in 2004 to follow their separate interests. The firm originally focused on custom residential designs but later moved into retail and educational projects. “We did everything from small to major projects,” Bunton said. “I had done a series of custom homes for a doctor and that led to multiple contracts for us.” A practicing architect since 1982, Bunton credits the start of his career to his mother 2 Architecture Leaders Today

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Project spotlight: Southwestern College of California As the first phase of a 20-year master plan, the new 141,000 sq. ft. corner lot project will house a community conference center, a campus bookstore, an internet café/ restaurant, a culinary arts program, an art gallery, a cultural and continuing education center, a business/instructional partnership center, a public safety center and SWCCD administration. The Hispanic heritage and culture of the surrounding communities is celebrated in the architectural style of the campus. The design draws inspiration from the traditional architecture of the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mayan Indians. As an extension of the campus, the corner lot project creates a direct physical connection to the community and the city at large. The six new buildings are organized around a simple axial promenade that connects the upper campus core to the public corner. The corner complex will serve as the public face of the college and engages the community at both the pedestrian level and visually from people driving by in their cars. Established in 1961, Southwestern College is the only institute of higher education located in the southern portion of San Diego County. Its location—nestled between the City of San Diego and the U.S.-Mexico international border on a 156-acre plot— positions it to play an important role in the intellectual growth of the more than 400,000 residents that call South County home. Serving approximately 22,000 students annually, Southwestern College offers more than 285 associate degree and certificate options. A host of noncredit courses designed to enhance personal and professional development are also offered through the College’s Continuing Education department. Whether pursuing an A.A. degree, preparing to transfer to a four-year college or university, or acquiring new occupational skills, students attending Southwestern College are given every opportunity to meet their educational goals. Photos courtesy of BCA.

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THIS PAGE: & OPPOSITE: San Mateo High School, San Mateo, Calif.; views of the front entry, clock tower, historic reconstruction of the 1926 building and the ampitheater.

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who suggested he get into architecture. “I took a drafting class in high school and it has been my life’s passion ever since,” he said. His firm got its footing in the educational sector through a local school district portable classroom project. “We showed them what we could do. We leveraged that project and were given more and more opportunities,” Bunton said. “We went from small projects to $150 million school projects.” Today, the company specializes in designing kindergarten-through-higher-education school projects. It also focuses on commercial, office and retail. “We do very little residential now,” Bunton said. One of BCA’s early signature projects was the renovation of Washington High School in Fremont, Calif. BCA became the master architects of the local bond for the $15 million project. The historic 1924-era school building had been closed for 20 years. BCA was hired to determine what could be done with the building. “We demolished part, restored part and built a brand new high school behind the restored section,” Bunton said. “That was our first significant historical project. Since then we have been involved in several others.” The Washington High project had its chal-


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lenges, especially when it came to reconstructing contain various plazas, the campus bookstore, the much-loved 1924 Italian Romanesque-style café and cultural center, all with outdoor building. There were many different opinions gathering areas and roof terraces that can within the 64-person building committee. accommodate community functions. “It was all about consensus building,” Bunton Bunton hopes that designing the bookstore, said. “It had to be a collaborative and trans- conference center and cultural arts center in parent process. It allowed us to develop the the school “will lead to more civic projects.” skills needed to successfully lead communities The company, headquartered in San Jose, through a major design process.” currently has five offices in California and a The five-year project represented a significant staff of 45. milestone for BCA. It was the first high school “We have evolved into a firm with a lot of skill the company had completed. That expertise sets that add value to our clients,” Bunton said. led BCA to a similar $50 million project in San “What defines our firm is the quality of design. Mateo County. The 1927 Tudor-style school Our designs are functional, practical and logibuilding had been condemned in 2001 because cal but with a creative flair that wins awards.” it was at-risk seismically. After meeting with Since its inception, BCA has built trusted the community and the building committee, relationships with its clients and vendors BCA decided to tear down the structure, recre- that have helped the firm achieve excellence ate the 1927 façade and build a new structural in design. For example, BCA has worked with steel school behind it. structural engineers at Walter P. Moore AssociOver the last decade, BCA has developed ates on several projects, including Southwestern significant skills that allow the firm to work Community College. BCA is also working with with all levels of education, including com- Sundt Construction on a new $30 million high munity college districts such as Southwestern. school project in San Diego. Southwestern Community College is one of In the last five years, BCA has embraced the largest community college projects in San green building principles on all of its projects. Diego. The $55 million project is scheduled The Southwestern High project will be LEED for completion in academic year 2012-2013. Platinum certified. “This project will put us at the next level,” Bunton’s interest in green building concepts Bunton said. “It will give us great credibility dates back to his college thesis on alternative in the college market.” energy sources. “I’m going back to where I started in college,” The Southwestern Promenade project is a contemporary, sustainable solution designed he said. “We are building more holistic living around a continuous central axis, referred to as environments that are environmental friendly.” an academic main street. BCA will use plazas In addition to providing interior and exterior and water features to connect the existing designs, BCA also helps projects find energycampus and the Chula Vista community to efficient funds; analyzes direct and indirect the new “main street.” The Promenade will costs related to maintenance, health, waste

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BELOW: BCA Architects new headquarters located in the historic Arts & Entertainment District in Downtown San Jose, Calif. All photos courtesy of BCA Architects

and energy use; and integrates sustainability into its designs. Looking toward the future, Bunton predicts the company will win more educational commissions. “We hope to advance into more civic and university-level work in the next five years. We are also looking at market sectors such as healthcare. We continue to grow and add staff. That tells me we are doing a few things correctly.” ALT

Thanks to the following partners of BCA Architects for helping underwrite this feature.

www.walterpmoore.com • 800.364.7300 Walter P Moore is an international engineering and consulting firm that specializes in structural engineering, including secure design, structural diagnostics, seismic evaluations and retrofits. The firm also provides parking design, and civil, traffic and transportation engineering. Walter P Moore has worked with BCA Architects on many projects including Southwestern Community College, Lincoln Elementary School (Anaheim), and two Burlingame elementary schools, all located throughout California. www.sundt.com San Diego: (619) 321-4800 Sundt Construction provides general contracting, construction management and design/build services for private and public sector clients and is currently working with BCA Architects on Sweetwater High School Building 100 for Sweetwater Union High School District.

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