Replacing entry signage and more than an acre of gopher infested turf at West Valley College in Saratoga seems most appropriate given Governor Brown’s recent statewide mandate for a 25% cut in water use. This project was conceived to highlight the identity of West Valley College on the main approach to campus. It also aimed to replace the turf with drought resistant plantings. The project, led by TLCD Architecture ultimately added a few more unexpected and interesting elements.
The signs themselves are bold new statements of West Valley College’s identity and take a fresh approach to the campus’ existing trademark logo. Designer Dickson Keyser of the GNU Group created sculptural leaf elements that stand out from the body of the three new signs and add animation to the ensemble. The 60 foot long main sign and the two electronic reader boards are made of self-healing Cor-Ten steel and merge seamlessly with the drought tolerant landscaping and the storm water recharge basin at the base of the site.
The West Valley Campus is centered on a meandering creek lined with stunning, mature oak trees. Many of these trees have reached the end of their life cycle and are dying off. At the top of the Entry Project, Quadriga Landscape Architecture established an “Oak Nursery”. Over time this nursery will provide stock to replant the deceased trees, keeping the oak lined central spaces of campus vibrant and alive.
Two historic palms were relocated from the location of the original farmhouse that preceded the college, when the site was orchard lands. They have been moved from an unnoticed location in the middle of a parking lot to create a fresh reminder of the history of the land.
The two reader boards are intended to announce campus events. WVC Director of Communications and Technology, Scott Ludwig, has programmed them with inspiring words that rotate on ten-minute cycles. Scott told me yesterday that students now walk up to him a spontaneously exclaim “Collaborate!” or other words of the moment, taking their cues from the reader boards.
The campus and nearby community has taken notice of the change and is appreciative of the dynamism of the statement. Over time, as they discover the other elements, it will become an even richer experience.