Mendocino College Lake Center, Lakeport, CA

Mendocino College Lake Center

Lakeport, CA

The Mendocino College Lake Center tells a story about the region’s history, with some modern moves that make a bold statement about access to education in this rural fringe of Northern California.


The valley with its oak-studded hills and seasonal creek has been home to generations of farmers and ranchers. Simple agrarian architecture provided design inspiration for building forms which frame views of the surrounding hills and Mt. Konocti in the distance.

A circular community room draws the attention of passing motorists along the busy highway.  


From the parking lot, a concrete feature wall draws you past the classroom building to the center of campus and the LRC. An organizing central “spine” crosses your path and reaches across campus toward classrooms, the art center and creek walk beyond. Deep overhangs provide shade in the summer and protection from rain in the winter.


Student learning on this active and modern campus embraces the surrounding natural habitat with an abundance of glass walls and windows that frame the views. Board formed concrete, painted cement board siding and steel elements follow the farmhouse vernacular, while use of wood on the interior provides a warm contrast to the sturdy concrete walls and polished floors. 


The dual relationship between access and heritage is what makes the new campus successful in the eyes of its students and neighbors. The Mendocino College Lake Center is a welcoming place for students who prefer a small town feeling with plenty of open space in an affordable area.

“The overall design, scale and layout of the facility commemorate the natural setting and celebrate our cultural heritage. All these things are important to people and communities in rural California – places where we still know our neighbors and rely on one another for advice.”

– Larry Perryman, Vice President of Administrative Services, Mendocino-Lake CC District


AIA Redwood Empire, Citation Award 2014

IIDA Northern California Chapter, Honor Award 2014


Client: Mendocino-Lake Community College District

Size: 15,500

Budget: $10 M

Completion: 2013